BBSRC DTA Studentship: Exploring the nucleus in 3D

Lead Research Organisation: Babraham Institute
Department Name: UNLISTED


Every human cell contains over 25,000 genes. This massive amount of genetic material must be squeezed into the cell nucleus. Since each cell uses only a fraction of its genes at any one time it packages the unused DNA into a tightly folded compact structure. As organisms develop individual cells must change their repertoire of active genes to suit new roles in the various tissues of the body. Therefore some of the stored DNA has to be unpacked or opened up so that new genes can be used while other areas containing previously used genes are compressed. This highly organised shuffling of genetic material is the focus of research in our laboratory. We are studying the human beta globin genes. These genes are unpackaged in blood cells during foetal development and activated to produce haemoglobin, which carries oxygen around the body. Our research is aimed at understanding the processes involved in the regulated expression (copying of the information into RNA) of these genes during development. The results will be vitally important in increasing our basic knowledge in the regulation of gene expression as well as provide starting points for clinical intervention in the large number of hereditary diseases involving the globin genes such as thalassemias.


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