UCSD Study Clarifies Epigenetic Behavior

Trey Ideker | Via UT San Diego | January 4, 2013

UC San Diego researchers have dashed the hopes of scientists looking for an easy way to determine how genes are turned off and on by regulatory chemicals, a field known as epigenetics.

The genes interact with histones, proteins that surround DNA, and also with other epigenetic factors. Where the genes are placed in the DNA changes how they’re regulated. So the effect of a gene varies depending on its neighborhood, even though the gene sequence itself is unchanged.

That means there isn’t one neat code that can predict gene regulation, said Trey Ideker, the study’s senior author and head of the Division of Genetics in the UCSD School of Medicine. The study was published Thursday in the journal Cell Reports. Its first author is Menzies Chen of UCSD’s Department of Bioengineering.