Bioinformatic and functional analysis of retroelements involved in the regulation of human genes

Josette-Renée Landry is bringing both computer science and traditional molecular biology techniques to her research into the function of repetitive DNA sequences in the human genome (full collection of human genes). The Human Genome Project, completed in February 2001, revealed that more than 40 per cent of the human genome consists of repetitive sequences whose function remains largely unknown. Studies have suggested that some of these repeats, called retroelements, can influence how genes are expressed (turned on and off). Josette-Renée is working to further understanding of the function of retroelements by searching for repeats that appear to be involved in regulation of human genes. She will then use laboratory techniques to determine how these elements are involved in gene expression. Her work could lead to the discovery of important new gene regulatory factors. Since many genetic disorders result from aberrant gene regulation, the identification of retroelements that play a role in normal gene expression may provide insight into how regulatory mechanisms are altered in diseases such as cancer.