After decades of research aiming to understand how DNA is organized in human cells, scientists at the Gladstone Institutes have shed new light on this mysterious field by discovering how a key protein helps control gene organization.

Humans have nearly 30,000 genes that determine traits from eye color to risk for hereditary diseases. Those genes sit along six feet of DNA, which are carefully organized into and stuffed into each and every microscopic human cell.

“The extreme compacting of DNA into chromosomes is like taking a telephone cord that stretches from San Francisco to New York, and stuffing it into a backpack,” described Benoit Bruneau, PhD, a senior investigator at Gladstone and lead author of a new study. “The organization of chromosomes is not random, but rather very complex, and it is critical for normal development. When this process goes wrong, it can contribute to various diseases.”

How is our DNA organized?

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