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K-State Today

October 19, 2017



Division of Biology presents Jennifer Gerton on Oct. 20

By Division of Biology

Jennifer Gerton, Stowers Institute, will present "Ribosomal DNA Copy number — Variation and Selection" as part of the Division of Biology Seminar Series at 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 20, in 221 Ackert Hall.

The lecture will cover ribosomal DNA as one of the most variable regions in the human genome with respect to copy number, yet we know virtually nothing about what governs its copy number, stability and sequence. Ribosomal DNA is present in many tandem repeats that are incredibly important because they encode the template for the RNA component of ribosomes; they organize large parts of nearly every human chromosome; and they can titrate factors involved in chromosomal processes, with profound impact on DNA replication, repair and gene expression. Despite the importance of the rDNA for cellular function, this locus has been largely ignored in the mammalian genome due to challenges associated with mapping and analysis.

Gerton will present two studies: a genetic screen in budding yeast that reveals DNA replication stress restricts the rDNA copy number; and an analysis of cancer genome samples that reveals a loss of ribosomal DNA repeats in cancer. We speculate that the rDNA may serve as a critical molecular stress sensor and adaptor.

This work has been featured in two recent articles in The Scientist and BioTechniques news

If you would like to visit with Gerton, please contact Katsura Asano at kasano@k-state.edu