July 17, 2008

Spring 2008 Catalyst Award Announced

Bruce T. Lahn (University of Chicago) and John A. Kessler (Northwestern University) have received a Catalyst Award for their project entitled “Testing the ‘Occlusis’ Model of Cell Fate Restriction.” The research team recently developed a cell fusion strategy to address the absence of a ready experimental system for ascertaining whether the silent state of a gene is the result of cis rather than trans regulation. The strategy makes it possible to dissect out the relative contribution of cis versus trans mechanisms to gene silencing and entails fusing two disparate cell types and searching for genes differentially expressed between the two genomes of fused cells. The researchers plan to develop the cell-fusion-based approach for identifying and analyzing occluded genes and, specifically, intend to pursue the following two aims: 1) to test whether the occluded state of a gene, once acquired during development, is essentially irreversible; and 2) to explore the biochemical mechanisms underlying gene occlusion.