Research Finds ‘Encyclopedia’ of Genes That Regulate Blood Cell Development

June 17, 2015

CVRC trainer, Emery Bresnick, and trainee, Kyle Hewitt, produce results suggesting that Samd14 is required for blood precursors to function properly.

“The analysis of this gene was a proof of principle that our strategy has identified new regulators of blood cell development, and it is likely that our non-coding DNA encyclopedia will yield many more important discoveries,” said Hewitt.

“We’re undertaking the broad challenge of assigning function to parts of the genome previously considered junk,” said Kyle Hewitt, an American Heart Association-funded postdoctoral fellow in the Bresnick group at the UW Blood Research Program and UW Carbone Cancer Center. “Our aim was to develop an encyclopedia of non-coding DNA segments that control blood cell formation and function.”

Hewitt and Bresnick aren’t probing through the undefined 98 percent blindly. Bresnick’s group has extensively studied how GATA-2 — one member of the GATA family of proteins implicated in cell growth, differentiation and cancer — is important for hematopoiesis, the formation of blood cell components derived from blood stem cells. And while GATA factors bind to millions of sequences in the genome, Bresnick’s group had previously identified a single site that binds GATA-2 and regulates blood stem cell genesis.

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