More than the genes: How noncoding DNA controls cell types for vision - Featuring GGSB Student Linsin Smith (Moskowitz Lab)

Feb 17, 2020
By Meghan O'Connell

Non-coding RNA (ncRNA) profiling can be used to identify parts of DNA that determine how cells in the eye develop. One such region, highlighted here in green in a developing mouse retina, directs cells to grow into rods; the red areas are for cones

DNA contains the instructions for every component, function, and life cycle of each individual cell. The DNA library is expansive and vast, but all cells in our body use the same template. So, how is it that different cells within our bodies can use the same DNA, or genome, to make so many different cell types? How can the same instructions direct the cells of the heart, of the eye, and of every other part of our bodies?

New research from geneticists Carlos Perez-Cervantes and Linsin Smith in the lab of Ivan Moskowitz, MD, PhD, at the University of Chicago have developed a new way to identify the parts of DNA that control how one cell type is made instead of another. Their new approach helps to identify something called cis-regulatory elements, a noncoding part of the genome (described below) that determines the differences between cell types of the body.

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