Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Enzyme Wakes Sleeping Genes

Enzyme activates epigenetically silenced genes ScienceDaily 2/7/07 "The reverse process of demethylation, however, has been poorly understood so far. Researchers from the divisions of Professor Dr. Christof Niehrs and Professor Dr. Frank Lyko at the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) have now been able to identify a protein called Gadd45a as a key player in demethylation. Gadd45a is a long known protein that is involved in many cellular processes...The researchers showed in a series of experiments that an increase of Gadd45a levels in the cells wakes deactivated genes from their sleep. Control experiments showed that methyl groups are indeed no longer attached to genes thus reactivated. In contrast, if Gadd45a is deliberately switched off, hypermethylation of many DNA areas is the result. When removing the methyl groups, as the investigators have further demonstrated, Gadd45a interacts with enzymes that are involved in DNA repair. The data obtained by Niehrs and Lyko indicate that Gadd45a induces DNA-cutting enzymes of the DNA repair troops to remove the methylated areas, which are subsequently replaced again by unmethylated building blocks...Gadd45a may also become an interesting target for clinical oncology"

Maybe Gadd45a will show potential for more than "rebooting" the anti-cancer genes in our body, although this in itself would be incredibly beneficial. One can hope that it might also be useful for a variety of other health conditions related to methylated genes. And how many conditions might that be? Billion dollar question.

Other posts on epigenetics here , here and here.

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