‘DNA origami’ inside nucleus provides clues to disease origins

| | January 20, 2015

There’s another image for DNA that goes beyond the double helix — bundles and bundles of loops. NPR’s Arun Rath talks to researcher Suhas Rao about how this discovery could help fight disease.

RATH: That’s Suhas Rao, a researcher at the Center for Genome Architecture at Baylor College of Medicine and Rice University. He says that DNA is looped and folded in an incredibly complex way and that the way the DNA is folded can determine which genes get turned on. That’s why Rao and his colleagues have created a 3D, high-resolution map of those 10,000 tiny loops.

RATH: So tell us about the importance of this 3D map that you’ve created. What sort of things are affected by where these loops fall?

RAO: Sure. So you have thousands of types of cells in your body, and they all have the same exact DNA inside them, but they all accomplish very different functions. And what we found is, actually, when we compared the maps of the 3D genome across different types of cells, we observed the kind of genomic origami. And so just like you can take a sheet of paper, and you can fold it up into a crane or a warrior depending on how – where you make the folds, a cell starts with the same genome. But depending on where these loops form, it can help the cell perform different functions, whether it becomes a lung cell or an immune cell or some other type of cell. So more and more, we’re finding that folding drives function.

Read full, original story: DNA, It Turns Out, Is A Lot More Loopy

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