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Scientists to Gather for 23rd Annual Genetics Day

Article / Review by on April 26, 2011 – 10:36 pmNo Comments

Scientists to Gather for 23rd Annual Genetics Day

University of Rochester scientists will gather next week to discuss the latest in genetics research and to trade scientific insights much like DNA strands swap key segments.

Scientists to Gather for 23rd Annual Genetics Day

The 23rd Annual Genetics Day is next Friday, May 6, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Class of ’62 Auditorium in the Medical Center. The day includes several talks by Medical Center and River Campus scientists, poster presentations by dozens of Rochester scientists, and a lecture by a leading expert on nuclear hormone receptors.

Scientists at the University have held Genetics Day, which draws together genetics research that is woven throughout the lives of hundreds of students and faculty members at the Medical Center and River Campus, every year since 1989.

The keynote speaker is Keith Yamamoto, Ph.D., executive vice dean of the School of Medicine at the University of California at San Francisco, who will give the Fred Sherman Lecture. Yamamoto is an expert on intracellular receptors – a popular target for common medications – and will discuss transcriptional regulation by steroids.

Other speakers include:
– Steven Gill, Ph.D., associate professor of Microbiology and Immunology, who will discuss the possible role of microbes in causing oral cancers.
– John Jaenike, Ph.D., professor of Biology, who will talk about the important role that bacteria play in the lives of some species of fruit fly.
– Hucky Land, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Biomedical Genetics, who will discuss cancer cell metabolism.
– Douglas Portman, Ph.D., associate professor of Biomedical Genetics and a member of the Center for Neural Development and Disease, who will discuss the exploration of gender differences in the brain through studies of a tiny roundworm known as C. elegans.

The full schedule of the day’s activities is available at 

9th Annual Fred Sherman Lecture, Dr. Keith R. Yamamoto

Friday, May 6, 2011

“Transcriptional Regulation by Steroids: Signal Integration and Gene Networks”

Abstract: What mechanisms govern transcriptional regulation in metazoans, where a single regulatory factor can control distinct gene networks in different tissues, in different developmental phases, in different physiological or pathological settings? The remarkable cell- and gene-specificity of transcriptional regulation by steroid hormone receptors such as the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) reflect their capacity to integrate the effects of multiple signals, including hormones, high-affinity DNA binding sequences, cellular cofactors and covalent modifications. Allosteric transitions– conformational changes transduced through receptors from “signal reception surfaces” to “signal effector surfaces”— appear to impart regulatory specificity. Thus, small chemical variations in hormonal ligands can specify the selectivity of GR:GRE occupancy, or modulate the regulatory activity of a GR:GRE complex. Similarly, 15 bp GR binding sequences (GBSs) differing by as little as a single base pair differentially affect GR conformation and regulatory activity. Using structural, molecular, bioinformatic and genetic analyses, we have identified GBS-specific conformational shifts in GR that are likely responsible in part for differences in the composition and function of regulatory complexes whose assembly is nucleated upon the GR:GRE interaction. DNA-driven protein allostery is a one mechanism by which transcriptional regulatory factors tailor their activities at specific target genes, thus producing distinct networks of regulated genes.

Genetics Day is sponsored by the University Committee for Interdisciplinary Studies and the departments of Biology and Biomedical Genetics.

* For Media Inquiries: Tom Rickey (585) 275-7954
**  The above story is adapted from materials provided by University of Rochester Medical Center 

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