October 29, 2010
The laboratory of Ken-ichi Noma, Ph.D., an assistant professor at the Wistar Institute, has produced the first detailed structure of the fission yeast genome. The researchers demonstrate how the physical structure of the genome itself helps cells regulate and control gene expression. Credit: Ken-ichi Noma, Ph.D./The Wistar Institute
If there is one thing that recent advances in genomics have revealed, it is that our genes are interrelated, “chattering” to each other across separate chromosomes and vast stretches of DNA. According to researchers at The Wistar Institute, many of these complex associations may be explained in part by the three-dimensional structure of the entire genome. A given cell’s DNA spends most of its active lifetime in a tangled clump of chromosomes, which positions groups of related genes near to each other and exposes them to the cell’s gene-controlling machinery. This structure, the researchers say, is not merely the shape of the genome, but also a key to how it works.