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Issue 2, 2009
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MAR elements regulate the probability of epigenetic switching between active and inactive gene expression

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Abstract

Gene expression often cycles between active and inactive states in eukaryotes, yielding variable or noisy gene expression in the short-term, while slow epigenetic changes may lead to silencing or variegated expression. Understanding how cells control these effects will be of paramount importance to construct biological systems with predictable behaviours. Here we find that a human matrix attachment region (MAR) genetic element controls the stability and heritability of gene expression in cell populations. Mathematical modeling indicated that the MAR controls the probability of long-term transitions between active and inactive expression, thus reducing silencing effects and increasing the reactivation of silent genes. Single-cell short-terms assays revealed persistent expression and reduced expression noise in MAR-driven genes, while stochastic burst of expression occurred without this genetic element. The MAR thus confers a more deterministic behavior to an otherwise stochastic process, providing a means towards more reliable expression of engineered genetic systems.

Graphical abstract: MAR elements regulate the probability of epigenetic switching between active and inactive gene expression

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Publication details

The article was received on 06 Aug 2008, accepted on 03 Nov 2008 and first published on 05 Dec 2008


Article type: Method
DOI: 10.1039/B813657B
Citation: Mol. BioSyst., 2009,5, 143-150
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    MAR elements regulate the probability of epigenetic switching between active and inactive gene expression

    J. Luis Galbete, M. Buceta and N. Mermod, Mol. BioSyst., 2009, 5, 143
    DOI: 10.1039/B813657B

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