DNA in the cell is wrapped around protein complexes to form chromatin, the structure of which is regulated by a panoply of factors which are still being identified. Two papers in the April 2007 issues of Nature Structural & Molecular Biology identify a sought-after regulator of 'marks' on the chromatin that are associated with whether the genes are switched on or off.
Researchers have found that a particular methylation mark, Histone H3K4me3, which is found on active genes, is under dynamic regulation. The elusive enzyme that removes this mark in the fruitfly Drosophila was identified by researchers led by Yi Zhang and Ali Shilatifard, a finding which builds on previous research in yeast. The enzyme belongs to the Jumonji domain family of proteins, a human member of which can also remove the gene-activating Histone H3K4me3 mark. These proteins may thus be one of the key players in stably altering gene expression across species.
Ali Shilatifard (Stowers Institute for Medical Research, Kansas City, MO, USA)
Yi Zhang (University of North Carolina/Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Chapel Hill, NC, USA)
Abstracts available online:
(C) Nature Structural & Molecular Biology press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza
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