04:08pm Sunday 24 September 2017

Organisms can keep gene expression in check: York U biologist

“Using yeast as a model organism, we studied the Tup1 protein, a negative regulator of gene expression,” says Biology Professor Emanuel Rosonina, adding, “This protein binds to some genes and blocks their expression, helping to ensure genes that shouldn’t be turned on remain inactive.”

The current study, jointly conducted by York University and Columbia University researchers, suggests that Small Ubiquitin-like Modifier (SUMO) modifies proteins bound to active genes, in order to prevent unfettered gene over-expression that can be harmful to the organism. “One of the ways SUMO does this is by promoting the binding of Tup1 to active genes, which then acts to reduce their expression to appropriate levels,” explains Rosonina, in the Faculty of Science at York U.

“Sumoylation controls the timing of Tup1-mediated transcriptional deactivation” published today, March 13, 2015 in Nature Communications is a follow up to a previous study which found SUMO in every gene examined.

“As a result of the previous study, we reported that SUMO is probably important for controlling expression of active genes because we found it on every gene we looked at, but only when they were turned on,” notes Rosonina.

Considering that many tumours have abnormal levels of SUMO, it will be important to examine whether inappropriate SUMO modifications in these tumours are related to the uncontrolled gene expression that is observed in most cancers, the research concludes.

York University is helping to shape the global thinkers and thinking that will define tomorrow. York U’s unwavering commitment to excellence reflects a rich diversity of perspectives and a strong sense of social responsibility that sets us apart. A York U degree empowers graduates to thrive in the world and achieve their life goals through a rigorous academic foundation balanced by real-world experiential education. As a globally recognized research centre. York U is fully engaged in the critical discussions that lead to innovative solutions to the most pressing local and global social challenges. York U’s 11 faculties and 25 research centres are thinking bigger, broader and more globally, partnering with 280 leading universities worldwide. York U’s community is strong − 55,000 students, 7,000 faculty and staff, and more than 275,000 alumni.


Media Contact:
  Gloria Suhasini, York University Media Relations, 416 736 2100 ext. 22094, suhasini@yorku.ca


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