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New research reveals clues into genome folding in cells
New research into the way our DNA is packaged and the mechanism that enables genome ‘folding’ in cells could give vital clues about how aberrant genome folding contributes to disease.
A team of international researchers from LISCB at the University of Leicester (UK), the National Cancer Institute (NKI) in Amsterdam (NL) and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in France studied in detail how cohesin, a ring-shaped protein complex, interacts with CTCF, another protein known as a transcription factor, and how they collaborate to accurately ‘fold’ the genome.
Folding refers to the way tightly packed genetic material is organised within a chromosome, made up of DNA and histone proteins - which can measure over two metres in total if stretched out. The research revealed that a precise interaction between cohesin and CTCF is required for successful genome folding to occur. In cancer cells, the part of cohesin that should bind CTCF is often no longer functional thus suggesting that these cancer cells frequently misfold their DNA.
Such genome misfolding could thus impact how genes are expressed and therefore contribute to disease.
Using x-ray crystallography, Dr Panne and his team were not only able to reveal the structures of the proteins, but also how they interact and gave vital clues to where the whole mechanism may have originated in evolution. The teams of Dr. Rowland and Dr. DeWit at NKI examined genome folding under conditions in which the interaction between these proteins was abolished.
The paper 'The structural basis for cohesin-CTCF anchored loops’ was published in the journal Nature in January 2020.
Daniel Panne explains the significance of his research on DNA folding on BBC Radio.
Publicity for the CryoEM facility
LISCB director Professor John Schwabe and CryoEM facility manager Dr Christos Savva appeared on BBC Leicester in August 2019 to explain the wonders of the Midlands CryoEM facility.
John Schwabe sings the praises of the exquisite details obtained by CryoEM and what this knowledge is used for on BBC Radio.
The two successful days exploring collaborations between LISCB, LPMI and Respiratory Sciences have resulted in collaborations being pursued in 4 discrete themes relating to respiratory research:
- Cell Signalling
- Maladaptive mechanisms
- Infection and Immunity
Chris Skidmore, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, visited LISCB in March 2019, enjoying a tour of the Cryo-EM facility.
- Lord David Willetts Visit's the Henry Wellcome Building
- Prof Emma Raven completes lecture tour in the US
- Regional cryo-electron microscope facility at the University of Leicester announced
- LISCB Pump Priming Call 2017 - Outcome
- Emma Raven is awarded a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award
- Patrick McIntyre is awarded 2017 BMCS International Travel Prize