Multicellular organisms contain a cornucopia of different cell types. Each has specific characteristics and functions, even though almost all contain the same genetic information. Such diversity is possible because each cell type expresses a unique subset of the genes encoded in DNA, a process controlled by non-coding sections of the genome called enhancers. Researchers don’t know much about them yet, but have recently come up with a way to identify the DNA sequences that function as enhancers and measure their activity in specific cells. Pictured are fruit fly ovary cells used to validate the method, with DNA stained fluorescent blue, and green representing the strength of enhancer activity. Scientists hope to use the technique to map the regulatory parts of the human genome and study how they’re involved in turning genes on and off during normal development and disease.
Written by Daniel Cossins
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