$12-Million Awarded to Study the Human Genome in 4-D
News Oct 20, 2015
In order to fit within the nucleus of a cell, the human genome must bend, fold and coil into an unimaginably compact shape – and still function. This is no mean feat: The human genome is about 6.5 feet long, and the average cell nucleus is only 6 to10 micrometers (one-millionth of a meter) in diameter.
How this happens and the genome's three-dimensional shape within the nucleus are unknown. Nor is it known how the shape changes over time – the fourth dimension – as a cell develops, grows and goes about its specialized functions.
“There’s a tendency to talk about the genome as a linear sequence and to forget about the fact that it’s folded,” said Dr. Jay Shendure, University of Washington associate professor of genome sciences and investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
“To understand how the different parts of the genome talk to each other to control gene expression, we need to understand how the different elements are arranged in relation to each other in three-dimensional space.”
To puzzle out this information and its effect on cell function in health and disease, UW researchers will join peers at five other academic institutions to create the Nuclear Organization and Function Interdisciplinary Consortium.
Underwriting the consortium is the National Institutes of Health’s 4D Nucleome program. The UW was awarded $12 million over five years to conduct research in its new Center for Nuclear Organization and Function. Shendure and William Stafford Noble, a professor of genome sciences and computer science, will co-lead.
UW researchers will first develop tools to work out the three- and four-dimensional architecture of the nucleome and to create computer models that predict changes in the architecture as cells grow, divide and differentiate into different types.
The results of this work will then be tested in mouse and human cell lines and, if confirmed, be used to understand how changes in nuclear architecture affect development of normal and abnormal heart muscle.
All tools and data developed by the project will be shared with researchers in and outside of the 4D Nucleome network of researchers and with the public.
Identical Twin Study Shows Impact of a Lifetime of Exercise on FItnessNews
When it comes to being fit, are genes or lifestyle more important? Researchers removed the nature part of the equation by studying a pair of identical twins who had taken radically different fitness paths over three decades. One became an Ironman triathlete while the other remained relatively sedentary over the last 30 years.
Analytical Tool Predicts Disease-Causing GenesNews
Predicting genes that can cause disease due to the production of truncated or altered proteins that take on a new or different function, rather than those that lose their function, is now possible thanks to an international team of researchers that has developed a new analytical tool to effectively and efficiently predict such candidate genes.
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