The researchers determined that key bits of DNA, called “enhancers,” which serve as a type of gene regulator, do not operate in an all-or-nothing manner to control whether or not genes are active.
Instead, the researchers found that changes in the arrangements of specific DNA sequences within these enhancers result in changes in levels of gene activity, similar to the way changing the syntax of a sentence affects its meaning.
Enhancers, when bound by proteins called transcription factors, play a necessary role in activating specific genes that may be quite a distance away within the cell’s chromosomes. The arrangement of DNA sequences in the enhancers determines the likelihood that matching transcription factors found in specific cell types will attach and cause the activation of genes, the scientists discovered.
The findings point to a strategy for designing DNA enhancers that might optimally guide gene activity in specific tissues targeted for gene therapy.
In other words, researchers want to learn and manipulate the language, in order to correct bad grammar. All the while subscribing to a theory of the origin and development of life according to which there is no design of life. Hmmm.
Article: Robin P Smith, Leila Taher, Rupali P Patwardhan, Mee J Kim, Fumitaka Inoue, Jay Shendure, Ivan Ovcharenko, Nadav Ahituv. Massively parallel decoding of mammalian regulatory sequences supports a flexible organizational model. Nature Genetics, 2013; DOI: 10.1038/ng.2713