Second genetic code
genetic researchers at U.Va. have discovered a new area outside
the DNA itself that may show existence of another type of genetic
four articles published in the Aug. 10 issue of the journal Science,
C. David Allis, U.Va. Byrd Professor of Biochemistry
and Molecular Genetics, other U.Va. researchers and collaborators
at the National Institutes of Health and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
in New York, as well as the Research Institute of Molecular Pathology
at the Vienna Biocenter in Austria, describe how proteins called
histones, around which the DNA is coiled, form a structure called
chromatin and provide sites where additional gene regulation appears
to occur, acting, in effect, as a master on/off switch.
and other researchers have co-authored several studies that show
evidence that histone methylation is at the heart of this common
believe that what is telling the cell to make those choices is
an overall code that may significantly extend the information
potential of the genetic DNA code itself. For some time, we have
known that there is more to our genetic blueprint than DNA itself.
We are excited that we are beginning to decipher a new code, what
is referred to as an epigenetic histone code.
we know how to control which genes we want to turn on or off,
we might be able to reduce disease risk, Allis said. For
example, we could turn off genes that promote tumor growth, to
help prevent cancer development, and turn on other genes that