Adding to the Complexity of Gene Expression Regulation

April 18, 2022

The Complexity of the Human Genome

With improved sequencing technologies and corresponding improvements in computational analysis tools, researchers are constantly uncovering new layers of complexity in the human genome.

A recent paper published a new, more complete human reference genome sequence including additional regulatory regions of the genome. For accurate genomics analyses, it is vital that all of the contributing elements to gene expression are accounted for, and this includes the “non-coding” and repressed genes and their regulation.

Repressing Gene Expression

Inactive genes are typically repressed by tight association with histone proteins, where the already tightly coiled DNA strand, a form called chromatin, is further wound around histone proteins to render those genes inaccessible to transcription machinery. These inactive regions of DNA are called heterochromatin, in contrast to euchromatin, the open, actively transcribed regions of the genome.

What’s unique about this mechanism is that it allows for flexibility in gene expression and silencing. Genes can be “turned on” by altering the chemical modifications on the histones, and similarly can be “turned off.” So what happens when an active gene is silenced, but RNA is still left over?

What Happens when Transcription Ends?

It turns out that the presence of RNA affects chromatin structure and stability. Based on this knowledge, Zhou et al. recently published in Nature a study examining the role of the rixosome protein complex in gene repression.

Using ChIP-seq, the authors determined that the rixosome localizes to newly silenced genes. Further experiments revealed that it allows for the repression process to complete by degrading leftover RNA, clearing it from the gene repression site. This adds a new player to the regulation of gene expression, a critical process to understand for genomics and beyond.

Outsourcing Bioinformatic Analyses

To gain these biological insights, you need high-quality bioinformatic pipelines. If the tools and pipelines you need aren’t performing, or don’t exist, consider reaching out to a bioinformatics as a service (BaaS) provider like Bridge Informatics. Skilled computational scientists with the bench experience and biological knowledge to understand your project are what set Bridge Informatics apart from other BaaS providers. Book a free discovery call with us today to see if we can meet your data analysis and pipeline development needs.

Jane Cook, Journalist & Content Writer, Bridge Informatics

Jane is a Content Writer at Bridge Informatics, a professional services firm that helps biotech customers implement advanced techniques in management and analysis of genomic data. Bridge Informatics focuses on data mining, machine learning, and various bioinformatic techniques to discover biomarkers and companion diagnostics. If you’re interested in reaching out, please email or


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