Thurston Arthritis Research Center scientist Doug Phanstiel, PhD, has received a three-year “Independence Award” grant from the National Human Genome Research Institute at the NIH. The research he will conduct under this grant is designed to help scientists better understand a variety of biological processes that play key roles in regulating immune cell development, including DNA looping and regulation of transcription.
Genes make up less than two percent of the human genome. Scattered throughout the rest of the genome (the complete set of genetic instructions for an organism) are areas that regulate the expression of genes – the process by which genetic instructions are used to create products such as proteins. Large DNA “loops” bring these regions into close proximity with the genes they are meant to target. These loops play a major role in regulating human development, health, and disease. Unfortunately, high-throughput and accurate methods to detect and study DNA loops are still emerging. The research covered by this grant will involve developing new tools to identify DNA loops, and provide new insights into the role that looping plays related to immune response and inflammation. Because altered, or incorrect, regulation of transcription is a common cause for many human diseases, this work is likely to inform our understanding of a variety of biological processes and human disease states.