Skip to main content
Utah's Foremost Platform for Undergraduate Research Presentation
2013 Abstracts

Modified Nucleosomes and the Effect on Positioning

Tara Hammond, Brigham Young University

Microbiology and Molecular Biology

Genetic diseases, including Alzheimer’s, cystic fibrosis, and many cancers, can be detrimental to individuals and their families. Gene therapy can possibly cure these diseases by inserting a correct copy of the gene into the chromosome, upregulating good genes, or downregulating the harmful gene. When DNA is packaged into a cell, it wraps around histones-an octamer made up of two tetramers, each containing four different subunits to create nucleosomes. Where the nucleosome sits on the DNA sequence determines whether or not a gene can be transcribed. In heterochromatin, nucleosomes are denser and DNA is tightly packed, thus causing genes to not be transcribed. Euchromatin contains looser packed nucleosomes and therefore has higher transcription levels. This project seeks to determine if modified nucleosomes have DNA sequence preferences. We are working with histone H3 to tri-methylate lysine 4, which has been shown to correlate with euchromatin. The modified histone will be used to create octamers. C. elegans DNA will be added to modified histones and to unmodified histones and allowed to create nucleosomes. The wrapped DNA will be sequenced, allowing us to compare the modified and unmodified nucleosome DNA preference. The difference in preference will enhance our ability to know how to move nucleosomes, thus aiding in gene therapy.