Chromatin dynamics involved in gene regulation
There is a growing interest in manipulating chromatin dynamics for applications in cell signalling, drug discovery and chromatin research. Progress in this area requires the identification of design rules for the chromatin system.
DNA in cells is wrapped around proteins called histones forming structures known as nucleosomes. These nucleosomes can fold into higher ordered structures, concealing DNA within them. This reduces accessibility to the DNA and adds another layer to the regulation of gene expression. This is a new target for drug discovery.
Opening of these structures to expose the DNA is influenced, among other factors, by gene expression levels. The deregulation of gene expression levels could be responsible for many diseases possibly because proteins in charge of the burial of DNA in the nucleosomes are themselves deregulated. Studying these potential changes in gene expression without altering the underlying DNA sequence is known as Epigenetics, an actively expanding research field.
The Ras-Raf-MEK-ERK Pathway is an important cell signalling route with many implications for cancer biology and therapeutic development. Dis-regulation of some of this pathway’s proteins expression and phosphorylation status are observed in about one-third of all human cancers. Access to specific tools to study this pathway is essential to a better understanding of its role in cancer for novel drug development. If you are working on this topic, you’ll be interested in taking a look at the range of reagents on offer for a wide variety of applications.
The mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling pathway is activated by a number of extra and intracellular stimuli including cytokines, growth factors, and hormones as well as stressors such as oxidative and ER stress. This pathways plays a key role in the regulation of many cellular processes including proliferation, differentiation, the stress response, motility, growth, differentiation, survival, and death. Abnormal MAPK signaling may contribute to increased or uncontrolled cell proliferation and/or resistance to apoptosis. To study this complex pathway, several tools are available, from the pathway specific arrays for an initial screen, to phospho-specific ELISA tests for individual target validation. This post aims at helping you to easily identify tools to explore this pathway in your samples (from arrays to phospho-ELISAs). However, I could not start without showing you once more one of these eye-catching illustrations of cell signalling pathways. I’ll let you explore it to dig out the MAPK protein cascade among all of them (a kind of Where’s Wally for the researcher !).