Controlling the Gene Expression Program
Much like computers, our cells depend on operating systems to drive normal functions in our bodies. The operating system on which our cells rely to conduct their biological functions is the "gene expression program".
Just as corrupted programs can cause glitches in computers, corrupted programs in humans can trigger diseases. Control over the gene expression program is affected by a number of factors, including transcription factors (proteins that control the flow of genetic information) and chromatin regulators (chromatin being a combination of DNA and proteins containing genetic information). Mutations in these regulators are associated with a number of serious diseases, including cancer.
Dr. Steve Bilodeau, Canada Research Chair in Transcriptional Genomics, is using a number of genomic and proteomic technologies to study how the gene expression program is regulated in embryonic stem cells and in cancer cells. His goal is to determine the molecular mechanisms involved in transcription-related diseases.
Bilodeau wants to better understand how chromatin and the chromosome environment influence the gene expression program. Determining how the cellular operating system is regulated is crucial in order to understand the defective gene expression programs involved in many diseases. Since the gene expression program is the centrepiece of all cells, if it can be controlled, all cells can be controlled.
Bilodeau’s research will improve understanding of how the cell’s gene expression program works in disease, and could lead to new treatments for serious diseases such as cancer.