Key Discovery About How Genes Turn On and off – “Critical Implications for Human Health”

Genetic Mutations Concept

A research team has uncovered a crucial aspect of gene regulation, shedding light on its implications in cancer.

Human bodies have roughly 30,000 genes dictating not only how we look, but also critical biological processes. Now, a Florida State University and Australia National University research team has discovered a key aspect of gene regulation and ultimately how that process is implicated in cancer.

Jonathan Dennis, an associate professor of biological science at FSU, and David Tremethick, a professor at Australia National University, have published a new paper in Nature Communications that reveals key information about a gene’s controlling region – where proteins attach to turn genes on or off. The researchers found that the way this region is packaged dictates how genes are either expressed or restricted.

The packaging refers to all of the characteristics of how and where these proteins attach. That process is critical to human biology, Dennis noted.

“When the wrong thing binds, you get inappropriate physiology, in some cases, cancer,” he said.

The new information challenges the current models for how a gene is expressed by revealing that there are many different ways a promoter can be packaged to either allow or restrict the expression of a gene.

A protein called H2A.Z plays an important role in regulating this packaging of genes in different ways. The researchers found that one important role of H2A.Z in gene regulation is to ensure that only the proper regulatory factors have access to gene promoters.

“H2A.Z is a type of protein called a histone variant,” said Lauren Cole, a former FSU doctoral student and the first author on the paper. “Because histone variants play an important role in gene regulation, this work leads to an expanded understanding of the human genome.”

Tremethick said the finding underscores how much work is left to be done to understand the human genome and how this finding can advance field forward.

“Although it has been nearly 20 years since the human genome was sequenced, how this genomic information is selectively utilized to direct patterns of gene expression underpinning cell fate decisions still remains poorly understood,” Tremethick said. “While there is still much work to be done, our study will help move the field forward to get a better understanding of how our genes are expressed at the right time and place, which has critical implications for human health.”

Reference: “Multiple roles of H2A.Z in regulating promoter chromatin architecture in human cells” by Lauren Cole, Sebastian Kurscheid, Maxim Nekrasov, Renae Domaschenz, Daniel L. Vera, Jonathan H. Dennis and David J. Tremethick, 5 May 2021, Nature Communications.
DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-22688-x

Other authors on the paper are Sebastian Kurscheid, Maxim Nekrasov and Renae Domaschen of Australian National University, and Daniel Vera, a former FSU graduate student who is now a research fellow at Harvard Medical School.

2 Comments on "Key Discovery About How Genes Turn On and off – “Critical Implications for Human Health”"

  1. Babu G. Ranganathan | May 30, 2021 at 9:16 am | Reply

    Babu G. Ranganathan*
    (B.A. Bible/Biology)


    When you divide a cake, the cake never gets bigger. However, when we were just a single cell and that cell kept dividing we got bigger. New material had to come from somewhere. That new material came from food.

    Just as the sequence of various letters and words in human language communicate a message and direct workers to build and assemble something so, too, the sequence of various molecules in our DNA (our genes or genetic code) directed the molecules from our mother’s food, that we received in the womb, to become new cells, eventually forming all the tissues and organs of our body.

    When you feed a cat your food the cat’s DNA will direct the food molecules to become the cells, tissues, and organs of a cat, but your DNA will turn the same food into human cells, tissues, and organs.

    What we call “genes” are actually segments of the DNA molecule. When you understand how your DNA works, you’ll also understand how egg yolks can turn into chickens. Read my popular Internet article: HOW DID MY DNA MAKE ME? Just google the title to access the article.

    This article will give you a good understanding of how DNA, as well as cloning and genetic engineering. You also learn that so-called “Junk DNA” isn’t junk at all. You will learn why it is not rational to believe that DNA code could have arisen by chance. Science points (not proves, but points) to an intelligent cause for DNA code.

    What about genetic and biological similarities between species? Genetic information, like other forms of information, cannot happen by chance, so it is more logical to believe that genetic and biological similarities between all forms of life are due to a common Designer who designed similar functions for similar purposes. It doesn’t mean all forms of life are biologically related! Only genetic similarities within a natural species proves relationship because it’s only within a natural species that members can interbreed and reproduce.

    Nature cannot build DNA code from scratch. It requires already existing DNA code to direct and bring about more DNA code or a genetic engineer in the laboratory using intelligent design and highly sophisticated technology to bring DNA code into existence from scratch. Furthermore, RNA/DNA and proteins are mutually dependent (one cannot come into existence without the other two) and cannot “survive” or function outside of a complete and living cell. DNA code owes its existence to the first Genetic Engineer – God!

    Protein molecules require that various amino acids come together in a precise sequence, just like the letters in a sentence. If they’re not in the right sequence the protein won’t function. DNA and RNA require for various their various nucleic acids to be in the right sequence.

    Furthermore, there are left-handed and right-handed amino acids and there are left-handed and right-handed nucleic acids. Protein molecules require for all their amino acids to be left-handed only and in the right sequence. DNA and RNA require for all their nucleic acids to be right-handed and in the right sequence. It would take a miracle for DNA, RNA, and proteins to arise by chance!

    Mathematicians have said any event in the universe with odds of 10 to 50th power or greater is impossible! The probability of just an average size protein molecule (with its amino acids in the right sequence) arising by chance is 10 to the 65th power. Even the simplest cell is made up of many millions of various protein molecules along with and DNA/RNA..

    The late great British scientist Sir Frederick Hoyle calculated that the odds of even the simplest cell coming into existence by chance is 10 to the 40,000th power! How large is this? Consider that the total number of atoms in our universe is 10 to the 82nd power.

    Also, so-called “Junk DNA” isn’t junk. Although these “non-coding” segments of DNA don’t code for proteins, they have recently been found to be vital in regulating gene expression (i.e. when, where, and how genes are expressed, so they’re not “junk”). Also, there is evidence that, in certain situations, they can code for proteins through the cell’s use of a complex “read-through” mechanism.

    Visit my latest Internet site: THE SCIENCE SUPPORTING CREATION (This site answers many arguments, both old and new, that have been used by evolutionists to support their theory)

    Author of the popular Internet article, TRADITIONAL DOCTRINE OF HELL EVOLVED FROM GREEK ROOTS

    *I have given successful lectures (with question and answer period afterwards) defending creation before evolutionist science faculty and students at various colleges and universities. I’ve been privileged to be recognized in the 24th edition of Marquis “Who’s Who in The East.”

  2. But what created “God”?

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