Screening for regulators of jumping genes

Screening for regulators of jumping genes

Project details

Line1 retrotransposons, known as ‘jumping genes’, derive from ancient viruses. The name ‘jumping gene’ refers to the ability of Line1 to copy itself and reintegrate into the genome; a process known as retrotransposition.

Throughout evolution, retrotransposition has occurred thousands of times such that ~50 per cent of the human genome is now composed of Line1. Repetitive non-protein coding DNA, such as Line1, was incorrectly thought to have no function and has been referred to as ‘junk’ DNA. Rather, integration of new Line1 elements can disrupt protein-coding genes or introduce novel exons and promoters, which can drive evolution or lead to disease (reviewed in Xiao-Jie, Genetics in Medicine 2016 18(5):431). This project will use an array of molecular biology techniques to screen for genes regulating Line1 activity.

About our research group

The Blewitt laboratory studies how genes are turned on and off, a process called epigenetic modification. The DNA of a fertilised egg contains all the information required to form an adult, with the vast array of different cell types determined by which genes are on and off in a given cell. Proteins called epigenetic modifiers turn different genes on and off throughout development.

Disease can occur if this process fails. Despite their importance, most human epigenetic modifiers likely remain unknown. Our laboratory is identifying potential new epigenetic modifiers and revealing the role of epigenetics in development and disease.



Dr Andrew Keniry profile photo
Epigenetics and Development division

Professor Marnie Blewitt

Marnie Blewitt
Joint Division Head

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