Crop Biotech Update

Spatial Pattern Holds Genome's Secrets

December 5, 2012

University of Massachusetts molecular geneticist Jon Dekker reported his findings that the spatial organization in the genome is important for gene regulation. Dekker developed an advanced technique that allowed him to see three-dimensional genome maps that show how the human genome folds, and how the pattern affects gene expression and disease development.

Through Dekker's method, his team discovered that chromosomes can be divided into folding domains—megabase-long segments within which genes and regulatory elements associate more often with one another than with other chromosome sections. The DNA forms loops within the domains that bring a gene into close proximity with a specific regulatory element at a distant location along the chromosome.

Dekker also stressed that the chromosome folding may help predict cancer development.