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NCI Cancer Center News

UNC-led study finds gene switches do more than flip 'on' or 'off'

  • Posted: April 12, 2012

A UNC-led team of scientists has now shown that transcription factors don’t act like an "on-off" switch, but instead can exhibit much more complex binding behavior. Working in yeast, the UNC team learned that the transcription factors’ binding process is dynamic and involves more than just being bound or unbound. In addition to a stable binding state (on or off), the team demonstrates a state that they call "treadmilling," where no forward transcription process is occurring.  Within this process, they hypothesize the existence of a molecular “clutch” that converts treadmilling to a stable bound state, moving the transcription process forward to completion to turn the gene on.

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NCI comprehensive cancer centers logoAmong the research institutions NCI funds across the United States, it currently designates 66 as Cancer Centers. Largely based in research universities, these facilities are home to many of the NCI-supported scientists who conduct a wide range of intense, laboratory research into cancer’s origins and development. The Cancer Centers Program also focuses on trans-disciplinary research, including population science and clinical research. The centers’ research results are often at the forefront of studies in the cancer field.