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More complex understanding of histones and DNA emerges
by Global Good News staff writer

Global Good News    Translate This Article
2 March 2013

In order to understand new findings in the field of DNA and gene expression, it is important to first know about histones and their function.

Histones are made of protein and act as spools around which DNA winds. They play a role in gene regulation, and it is this role that is now better understood than ever before.

Dr Alarik Arenander, a UCLA-trained neuroscientist with degrees in molecular biology, developmental biology, and neuroscience, spoke in more depth about histones.

He said, 'You have to remember that the [genetic] code, all the little beadings of code are quite long . . . but you have to somehow compactify them into the nucleus of every cell.'

This is where histones come into play.

'That winding procedure requires proteins because the DNA itself isn't capable of doing that,' Dr Arenander said. So the long strings of DNA are wrapped around the proteins, or histones.

'This way we can get more and more DNA into a smaller area.'

This is the classically understood role of histones, but they also play another part in gene expression.

Dr Arenander compared the process to finding a passage in a book in a library. If you want to read a particular passage, you have to look up where the book is located, then look in the index to find the passage.

This is similar to looking for a particular gene in a string of DNA. The body needs a mechanism to open up the histone wrapping structure and locate the gene with accuracy.

By studying this mechanism, scientists have found some surprising results that shed light on the permeable nature of gene expression, which was previously thought to be fixed and unchangeable.

Dr Arenander went on to discuss more about histones and gene expression; later in his talk he explored the relationship between their role and the changes found by researchers in subjects who practise Transcendental Meditation.

Copyright © 2013 Global Good News Service

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