Monday, January 18, 2010

Live Blogging: Keystone Symposium on Molecular Basis for Chromatin Structure and Regulation

Hello, I'm in Taos,  New Mexico broadcasting my impressions of a scientific conference I'm attending.  I will be careful to follow the rules when it comes to blogging about unpublished data. According to the rules of the conference I am not allowed to report unpublished results, take audio recordings, or pictures. Initially my "open access" mentality cringes at the thought of being under a gag order but I do see the merit in this - it keeps the peer review process legitimate. This rule reminds us that it is up to literate people everywhere to dive into the scientific literature and talk about results AFTER they pass through the peer review filter.   I will be sure not to violate the symposium's requests but I am still free to give you my interpretation of what is going which I will do to the best of my ability...  Here we go.

The keynote speaker is Roger Kornberg.  

Who is Roger Kornberg?

He was awarded the 2006 Nobel prize in chemistry for his work on the crystal structure of RNA polymerase. This feat has given science and atom by atom view of the process in which genetic information is transcribed from the DNA code to the RNA code that is then translated into all the tiny machines that make our brain cells brain cells and liver cells liver cells.

What is he talking about? He is introducing unpublished data regarding nucleosome occupancy during transcription.  This is, by nature, a controversial topic in the field of chromatin regulation because there are several camps of scientists who have different ideas about how nucleosomes behave while DNA strands wound up around nucleosomes are "read" by the transcription machinery.  Do the nucleosomes come apart or remain intact as the machinery pushes through during transcription?  Look for a paper from Kornberg et. al. to find out a suggested answer in the near future.

There is another controversy in the chromatin field Kornberg is adressing.  Is DNA wrapped around histone proteins removed from its coiled wrap and if so how exactly does this occur? There are two main ideas about how the string of DNA comes off the core histone proteins.  These are "twist diffusion" or "bulge diffusion."

Kornberg is throwing this out saying there is another way to think about this phenomenon.

based on published results he is claiming RSC binding disrupts nucleosome structure.    So RSC displaces DNA from the nucleosome which enables translocation.

Oh, he mentioned Karolin!

Now C. David Allis is speaking...

 He started with a quote from Alan Wolffe.

He is mainly speaking about histone variants. Specifically histone H3.3 and its role in epigentic regulation in a mammalian system.

- Mentions this company Sangamo biosciences heads up Green Ninja.

more tomorrow.

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