Satellite Banner
Genomics
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Super-Enhancers Seen as ‘Rosetta Stone’ for Dialog Between Genes and Disease

Published: Monday, October 21, 2013
Last Updated: Monday, October 21, 2013
Bookmark and Share
Regulatorsthat control cell identity found to be enriched in mutated regions of genome.

Having recently discovered a set of powerful gene regulators that control cell identity in a few mouse and human cell types, Whitehead Institute scientists are now showing that these regulators—which they named “super-enhancers”—act across a vast array of human cell types and are enriched in mutated regions of the genome that are closely associated with a broad spectrum of diseases.

The findings, published online today by the journal Cell, suggest that these super-enhancers, first described in Cell several months ago by Whitehead Member Richard Young, could ultimately play important roles in disease diagnostics and therapeutics.

In April, Young reported that while the total number of genetic control elements is likely in the millions, only a few hundred super-enhancers regulate the key genes that give each cell its unique properties and functions. At the time, Young hinted that the discovery, which was based on work primarily in embryonic stem cells, would help to solve the regulatory circuitry of all human cells. This latest research represents a significant step toward that goal, producing a catalog of super-enhancers in nearly 100 human cell and tissue types.

“We’ve gone from a few cells to a broad swath of human cell types to create this resource and make it available to the biomedical research community,” says Young, who is also a professor of biology at MIT.

Young notes that the striking finding of the new study is that beyond their roles in control of healthy cells, super-enhancers are involved in regulating the function—and dysfunction—of diseased cells.

“We were surprised that for so many different diseases, mutations associated with the disease occur in super-enhancers” says postdoctoral scientist Brian Abraham, an author of the study. Indeed, he and other researchers in Young’s lab found in disease-relevant cell types genetic mutations associated with Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and many autoimmune diseases in genomic regions under the control of specific super-enhancers.

The researchers also found super-enhancers operating in particularly insidious fashion across a broad spectrum of cancers, observing cancer cells assembling their own super-enhancers to overproduce malevolent oncogenes that drive such cancer hallmarks as hyperproliferation, invasion, and metastasis. Young believes that identifying, mapping, and disrupting super-enhancers could alter the way cancers are managed in the clinic.

“When we focus on personalized medicine for cancer patients, super-enhancers could serve as useful biomarkers for tracking and understanding the evolution of a person’s cancer,” says Young. “Ultimately, super-enhancers may well become important targets for therapeutic intervention.”


Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,400+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 3,700+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Sex Chromosome Shocker: The “Female” X a Key Contributor to Sperm Production
Painstaking new analysis of the genetic sequence of the X chromosome reveals that large portions of the X have evolved to play a specialized role in sperm production.
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Thwarting Protein Production Slows Cancer Cells’ Malignant March
Protein production or translation is tightly coupled to a highly conserved stress response that cancer cells rely on for survival and proliferation.
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Scientists Identify Gene that Controls Aggressiveness in Breast Cancer Cells
Researchers have identified a transcription factor, known as ZEB1, that is capable of converting non-aggressive basal-type cancer cells into highly malignant, tumor-forming cancer stem cells (CSCs).
Monday, July 08, 2013
Precision Gene Targeting in Stem Cells Corrects Disease-Causing Mutations
Whitehead Institute researchers manipulate targeted genes in both human embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Embryonic Stem Cells Reveal Oncogene's Secret Growth Formula
Researchers describes a pausing step in the transcription process that serves to regulate expression of as many as 80% of the genes in mammalian cells.
Monday, May 03, 2010
Chimp and Human Y Chromosomes Evolving Faster than Expected
Whitehead Institute researchers have found considerable differences in the genetic sequences of the human and chimpanzee Y Chromosomes.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Knockouts in Human Cells Point to Pathogenic Targets
Whitehead researchers have developed a new type of genetic screen for human cells to pinpoint specific genes and proteins used by pathogens.
Monday, November 30, 2009
Technique Enables Efficient Gene Targeting In Human Embryonic Stem Cells
Whitehead scientists have developed a technique to modify or introduce genes into the genomes of human ESCs and iPS cells.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Novel Cell Lines Propel the Search for Safer Stem Cell Induction
Researchers produce mice and mouse cell lines with identical configurations of the specific factors needed to reprogram adult cells to an embryonic-stem-cell-like state.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Single Virus Used to Convert Adult Cells to Embryonic Stem Cell-Like Cells
Researchers have simplified the creation of induced pluripotent stem cells, cutting the number of viruses used in the reprogramming process from four to one.
Monday, December 22, 2008
Recipe for Cell Reprogramming Adds Protein
A drug-like molecule can be substituted for the cancer gene c-Myc, one of four genes added to adult cells to reprogram them to an embryonic-stem-cell-like state, says Whitehead researchers.
Friday, August 08, 2008
Scientists Identify Gene that Regulates Polarity in Regenerating Flatworms
Whitehead scientists have discovered that the gene Smed-beta-catenin-1 is required for proper decisions about head-versus-tail polarity in regenerating flatworms.
Monday, December 10, 2007
Scientific News
RNAi Screening Trends
Understand current trends and learn which application areas are expected to gain in popularity over the next few years.
Tracking Breast Cancer Before it Grows
A team of scientists led by University of Saskatchewan researcher Saroj Kumar is using cutting-edge Canadian Light Source techniques to screen and treat breast cancer at its earliest changes.
DNA Damage Seen in Patients Undergoing CT Scanning
Along with the burgeoning use of advanced medical imaging tests over the past decade have come rising public health concerns about possible links between low-dose radiation and cancer.
The Mystery of the Instant Noodle Chromosomes
Researchers from the Lomonosov Moscow State University evaluated the benefits of placing the DNA on the principle of spaghetti.
Oxitec ‘Self-Limiting Gene’ Offers Hope for Controlling Invasive Moth
A new pesticide-free and environmentally-friendly way to control insect pests has moved ahead with the publication of results showing that Oxitec diamondback moths (DBM) with a ‘self-limiting gene’ can dramatically reduce populations of DBM.
Web App Helps Researchers Explore Cancer Genetics
Brown University computer scientists have developed a new interactive tool to help researchers and clinicians explore the genetic underpinnings of cancer.
Kiwi Bird Genome Sequenced
The kiwi, national symbol of New Zealand, gives insights into the evolution of nocturnal animals.
Scientists Identify Schizophrenia’s “Rosetta Stone” Gene
Scientists have identified a critical function of what they believe to be schizophrenia’s “Rosetta Stone” gene that could hold the key to decoding the function of all genes involved in the disease.
Yeast Cells Use Signaling Pathway to Modify Their Genomes
Researchers at the Babraham Institute and Cambridge Systems Biology Centre, University of Cambridge have shown that yeast can modify their genomes to take advantage of an excess of calories in the environment and attain optimal growth.
Nanoparticles Can Clean Up Environmental Pollutants
Researchers have found that nanomaterials and UV light can “trap” chemicals for easy removal from soil and water.
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,400+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,700+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FREE!