Research NewsMolecular Biology

Opening the Way to Gene Activity

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Science  10 Jan 1997:
Vol. 275, Issue 5297, pp. 155-157
DOI: 10.1126/science.275.5297.155

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For decades, molecular biologists have suspected that a chemical modification called acetylation plays an important role in regulating gene activity, but they have had trouble proving it. Now researchers in several labs have identified several acetylating and deacetylating enzymes, and they have linked the reaction directly to the machinery that reads the genes: The acetylating enzymes have turned out to be proteins already known to associate with the transcription factors that turn genes on and off. What's more, the new work indicates that acetylation is important for cell growth control, and that when it becomes misdirected, cancer may develop.