With the help of the most recent genomic technologies, one of the most exciting current scientific questions is researched at the University of Debrecen: how does gene regulation occur in various cells?
Under the supervision of Bálint László Bálint, Laboratory Director of Genomi Medicina és Bioinformatikai Szolgáltató Központ [Medical Genomic and Bioinformatic Core Facility], PhD student Dóra Bojcsuk and Assistant Research Fellow Gergely Nagy focus on exploring the most complex gene regulatory sequences. They have examined the role of the so-called super enhancers in the development of diseases from an entirely new perspective and managed to reach a conclusion that could influence even the efficiency of genetic manipulation methods in a positive direction.
During the course of the bioinformatic analysis of previously published and publicly available data, they observed that, in each super enhancer (SE) whose formation is facilitated by some sort of chemical, there is a region to which proteins have an affinity to bind. Binding occurs without the assistance of any chemical material, for example, a hormone, a vitamin, or medicine. They referred to these primary functional units as “mother enhancers," while the subsequently appearing secondary enhancers, which become active only through some chemical stimulation, were named “daughter enhancers.”
SE-s are responsible for a range of developments in the human body, including the formation of autoimmune diseases or cancer. The discovery of researchers at the University of Debrecen can serve as the foundation not only for their future research projects but also for the gene regulatory examination of any DNA binding protein through SE-s. It might also prove to be crucial in a more accurate identification of the regulatory regions responsible for the development of diseases. If these DNA sequences are removed or repaired, even inside the uterus during the embryonic stage of development, the genetic factors that can lead to a predisposition to hereditary diseases may be canceled.
The significance of these research findings produced by Medical Genomic and Bioinformatic Core Facility is indicated by the fact that an article about it has been published by the periodical Nucleic Acids Research of the prestigious publishing house of Oxford University Press.
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