REHOVOT, Israel, July 19 (UPI) -- Israeli scientists say they've discovered the genetic code for organizing DNA -- the long, thin molecule that carries hereditary material.
DNA is compressed around protein scaffolding in the cell nucleus into tiny spheres called nucleosomes. The bead-like nucleosomes are strung along the entire chromosome, which is, itself, folded and packaged to fit into the nucleus.
The question facing scientists has been what determines how, when and where a nucleosome will be positioned along the DNA sequence?
Now, Weizmann Institute of Science Professor Eran Segal and research student Yair Field, with colleagues at Northwestern University in the United States, have identified the genetic code that sets the rules for where on the DNA strand the nucleosomes will be situated.
For many years scientists have been unable to agree whether the placement of nucleosomes in live cells is controlled by the genetic sequence itself. Segal and colleagues say they've found the DNA sequence does encode "zoning" information on where to place nucleosomes. They characterized that code and then, using the DNA sequence alone, were able to accurately predict a large number of nucleosome positions in yeast cells.
The research is detailed in the journal Nature.