Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > The nanoscopic structure that locks up our genes

Made up of nucleosomes -- roll-shaped bundles of DNA and protein -- heterochromatin is connected by a velcro-like feature called Heterochromatin Protein 1.
CREDIT
(Image: Yoshimasa Takizawa/OIST)
Made up of nucleosomes -- roll-shaped bundles of DNA and protein -- heterochromatin is connected by a velcro-like feature called Heterochromatin Protein 1. CREDIT (Image: Yoshimasa Takizawa/OIST)

Abstract:
Wireless headphones, two yo-yos connected by a string, earmuffs: all these items could be used to describe a tiny structure inside a cell's nucleus. For decades, scientists could only speculate about the shape of heterochromatin, a type of chromatin--which consists of tightly packed DNA and proteins. Recently, however, researchers from the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, Graduate University (OIST) and Waseda University have been able to define its structure thanks to new, high-contrast imaging in cryo-electron microscopy. Their work appears this January in the journal Molecular Cell.

The nanoscopic structure that locks up our genes

Okinawa, Japan | Posted on January 16th, 2018

The new research shows that, although tightly packed, heterochromatin is perhaps less dense than previously thought. Made up of nucleosomes--roll-shaped bundles of DNA and protein--the heterochromatin is connected by a velcro-like feature called "Heterochromatin Protein 1 (HP1)." This fundamental feature allows the body to "lock down" genes so they cannot be transcribed.

"Life as we know it relies on these principles," said Matthias Wolf, one of the leading authors of the paper and head of the Molecular Cryo-Electron Microscopy Unit at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, Graduate University (OIST).

"This work is an example of a very fruitful collaboration, which would not have been possible by any of the research groups alone," said Hitoshi Kurumizaka, the leading author of the study at Waseda University. There, along with Shinichi Machida, an assistant professor at Waseda and co-first author on the paper, researchers successfully purified heterochromatin in vitro. Researchers at OIST imaged these samples in glass-like amorphous ice, which contains hundreds of pieces of heterochromatin, under a cryo-electron microscope.

Using a computer algorithm to classify individual particles by type, the scientists "cut out" those particles facing in the same direction. Then, they stacked these digital cutouts atop one another, combining hundreds of images to create a clearer picture. Wolf demonstrated the concept by placing his hands atop each other.

"If everything fits perfectly then the thumbs and all the fingers align," he said, "and you get higher resolution."

Based on these images, Wolf and his colleagues created three-dimensional reconstructions of the heterochromatin. Because of the structure's flexibility, it was difficult to get a precise idea of its shape, said Yoshimasa Takizawa, group leader of the unit and co-first author on the paper. Takizawa collected hundreds of thousands of images of individual particles to obtain better resolution.

"We were surprised at how it looked," he said of the heterochromatin's shape, "but this could be consistent with other functions, like the binding of other proteins to exposed DNA."

In the future, the researchers hope to use their knowledge to understand higher order structures, like entire strings of nucleosomes.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Kaoru Natori

81-989-662-389

Copyright © Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST)

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Research brief: UMN researchers use green gold to rapidly detect and identify harmful bacteria August 15th, 2018

Particles pull last drops of oil from well water: Rice University engineers find nanoscale solution to 'produced water' problem August 15th, 2018

CTI Materials drives nano commercialization with it's patented surfactant free nanoparticle dispersions August 15th, 2018

Flipping the switch on supramolecular electronics August 14th, 2018

Imaging

New technology can detect hundreds of proteins in a single sample: Improvement of barcoding technique offers cost-effective alternative to current technology August 13th, 2018

Feds back Rice U. study of nanoscale electrocatalysis: Professors Christy Landes, Stephan Link will analyze mechanisms to improve chemical reactions July 25th, 2018

Researchers use nanotechnology to improve the accuracy of measuring devices July 24th, 2018

Oxford Instruments’ 22 Tesla superconducting magnet system commissioned at the UAM, making it the most intense magnetic field available outside a large international facility July 12th, 2018

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Research brief: UMN researchers use green gold to rapidly detect and identify harmful bacteria August 15th, 2018

Particles pull last drops of oil from well water: Rice University engineers find nanoscale solution to 'produced water' problem August 15th, 2018

Flipping the switch on supramolecular electronics August 14th, 2018

New technology can detect hundreds of proteins in a single sample: Improvement of barcoding technique offers cost-effective alternative to current technology August 13th, 2018

Possible Futures

Research brief: UMN researchers use green gold to rapidly detect and identify harmful bacteria August 15th, 2018

Particles pull last drops of oil from well water: Rice University engineers find nanoscale solution to 'produced water' problem August 15th, 2018

How hot is Schrödinger's coffee? August 15th, 2018

New technology can detect hundreds of proteins in a single sample: Improvement of barcoding technique offers cost-effective alternative to current technology August 13th, 2018

Nanomedicine

Research brief: UMN researchers use green gold to rapidly detect and identify harmful bacteria August 15th, 2018

New technology can detect hundreds of proteins in a single sample: Improvement of barcoding technique offers cost-effective alternative to current technology August 13th, 2018

Scientists squeeze nanocrystals in a liquid droplet into a solid-like state and back again: Simple chemical technique transforms crystal mixture where 2 liquids meet August 9th, 2018

Nanoscience and the future of healthcare kick off first day of ACS national meeting in Boston: Presidential events highlight safety, diversity and groundbreaking research August 2nd, 2018

Discoveries

Research brief: UMN researchers use green gold to rapidly detect and identify harmful bacteria August 15th, 2018

Particles pull last drops of oil from well water: Rice University engineers find nanoscale solution to 'produced water' problem August 15th, 2018

How hot is Schrödinger's coffee? August 15th, 2018

Flipping the switch on supramolecular electronics August 14th, 2018

Announcements

Research brief: UMN researchers use green gold to rapidly detect and identify harmful bacteria August 15th, 2018

Particles pull last drops of oil from well water: Rice University engineers find nanoscale solution to 'produced water' problem August 15th, 2018

How hot is Schrödinger's coffee? August 15th, 2018

CTI Materials drives nano commercialization with it's patented surfactant free nanoparticle dispersions August 15th, 2018

Interviews/Book Reviews/Essays/Reports/Podcasts/Journals/White papers

Research brief: UMN researchers use green gold to rapidly detect and identify harmful bacteria August 15th, 2018

Particles pull last drops of oil from well water: Rice University engineers find nanoscale solution to 'produced water' problem August 15th, 2018

How hot is Schrödinger's coffee? August 15th, 2018

New technology can detect hundreds of proteins in a single sample: Improvement of barcoding technique offers cost-effective alternative to current technology August 13th, 2018

Tools

Nanometrics Delivers 100th: Atlas III System for Advanced Process Control Metrology Atlas III: Systems are qualified and in production for advanced devices in DRAM, 3D-NAND and Foundry/Logic August 2nd, 2018

Picosun’s ALD solutions make quality watches tick July 26th, 2018

Nanometrics Announces Participation in Upcoming Investor Conferences July 25th, 2018

Researchers use nanotechnology to improve the accuracy of measuring devices July 24th, 2018

Grants/Sponsored Research/Awards/Scholarships/Gifts/Contests/Honors/Records

Research brief: UMN researchers use green gold to rapidly detect and identify harmful bacteria August 15th, 2018

Particles pull last drops of oil from well water: Rice University engineers find nanoscale solution to 'produced water' problem August 15th, 2018

Breaking down the Wiedemann-Franz law: In a study exploring the coupling between heat and particle currents in a gas of strongly interacting atoms, physicists at ETH Zurich find puzzling behaviours August 10th, 2018

Yale-NUS scientist and collaborators solve open theoretical problem on electron interactions August 10th, 2018

Nanobiotechnology

Research brief: UMN researchers use green gold to rapidly detect and identify harmful bacteria August 15th, 2018

New technology can detect hundreds of proteins in a single sample: Improvement of barcoding technique offers cost-effective alternative to current technology August 13th, 2018

Scientists squeeze nanocrystals in a liquid droplet into a solid-like state and back again: Simple chemical technique transforms crystal mixture where 2 liquids meet August 9th, 2018

Nanoscience and the future of healthcare kick off first day of ACS national meeting in Boston: Presidential events highlight safety, diversity and groundbreaking research August 2nd, 2018

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project