Scientists at the University of North Carolina have recently made a breakthrough in the study of epigenetics, particularly enzyme modification of histones. Histones, the structures to which our DNA binds in the nucleus, play a pivotal role in gene expression. In other words, histone and enzyme interaction control which genes are expressed in which cells during certain times. Epigenetics is the study of how this process works. Tightening or loosening histones can turn a certain gene off or on. The study of this process has been difficult given the size of the genome and number of different histone-enzyme interactions dispersed through the sizable sequence of DNA. The Enzymes place specific chemical markers on the histones that cause the gene regulation to occur, but scientists have been unable to determine which enzymes affect what genes and how. However, the scientists at UNC have recently conducted a study with the fruit fly genome that has given them a large amount of data. The fruit fly genome contains all of its epigenetic markers in the same place. The scientists were able to insert synthesized gene regulating enzymes in place of the originals and determine the function of each individual enzyme by simply observing what was affected by the new enzymes. This research is crucial for the understanding of how the human genome is regulated, possibly leading to the cure for many illnesses.
Article Link: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/02/150210142008.htm