by Tryammbak Kansal

A gene is one of the most basic components of DNA. Cells have thousands of genes and each gene have a specific function in our body. Gene activation is one of the most important processes in a gene and to activate a gene we need to have an initiation of transcription. To initiate gene transcription we require a "core promoter" and this study is based upon this special element of our DNA.

Generally, some of the genes present in our body have a common core promoter termed as the TATA box consists of specific DNA sequence signatures. Although it is one of the most important core promoter elements present in our body, only 25% of genes are composed of it. And the rest of 75% of the core promoters was still unknown to us for the past 23+ years but this recent discovery brought a drastic change in this field.

To have a better understanding of this topic, researchers at UCSD studied the core promoters in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster and found a DNA sequence termed DPE (downstream core promoter element) which can transcript the DNA without the presence of TATA.

To implement the above in humans they used a larger core promoter region called DPR (downstream promoter region). To study core promoters in human DNA they used a machine learning analysis method termed support vector regression (SVR). They used over 500,000 DNA sequence variants of the DPR and further used 200,000 of those sequence variants to generate an SVR model that has all of this information.

This study showed the presence of the DPR motif in human genes and the fact its occurrence is comparable to that of the TATA box. Interestingly researchers observed a duality between the DPR and TATA. Genes that can be activated with the DPR lacks TATA box and vice versa.

This knowledge will help us to understand many human diseases that happen due to improper regulation of gene activity and further improve our current understandings in the field of biotechnology biomedical sciences.

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