Biotech Updates

Researches Report Protein that Controls Flowering thru Combined on and off Switches

August 8, 2018

A research published in Nature Genetics and conducted by University of Wisconsin–Madison biologists presents a previously unknown mechanism for controlling cellular decisions, one which combines an on-and-off switch in a single protein. 

Geneticist Xuehua Zhong and her lab at Wisconsin Institute for Discovery found that the protein EBS can bind to two different chemical modifications on histones, proteins that DNA wraps around, either promoting or preventing the transition to flowering in plants. This provides opportunities for developing better crops and could also help scientists in studying detrimental diseases such as cancer.

Gene activation is usually controlled by one protein, while another protein will block the gene's epression. However, Zhong's team found that EBC has domains that can read both activating and repressing marks, and then make the switch turn on or off. They also reported that during flowering time, EBS changes its shape, making it more linked to the activating modifications. That transformation from "off" to "on" allows EBS to switch on a group of genes that activates the flowering program.

Read the media release from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.