ANCHOR LEAD: EVIDENCE IS ACCUMULATING FOR THREE-DIMENSIONAL CHANGES TO DNA THAT MAY LEAD TO CANCER, ELIZABETH TRACEY REPORTS
Most researchers can only examine genes and DNA changes in cells in a stepwise fashion, as though DNA was arranged in a long string, with various chemical changes taking place along the string. Now it turns out that the packaging of both DNA and additional molecules are considerably more complex. Stephen Baylin, a cancer researcher at Johns Hopkins, explains.
BAYLIN: How the various components that we think regulate gene expression are ordered around the gene we do it linearly. Even the most sophisticated techniques now where we can do whole genome scanning for various marks that are critical either for an active gene or a silenced gene, it’s linear. But we’re coming into an era where we know how these marks really work is three-dimensionally. :22
Baylin and colleagues have recently published a study describing one type of three dimensional DNA packaging material called polycomb proteins, which also regulate gene expression. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.