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Non-Covalent Interactions in Chemistry and Biochemistry

Final Activity Report Summary - INTCHEM (Non-covalent interactions in Chemistry and Biochemistry)

Chromatin structure is central to the control of gene expression. It is only recently, that there has been a realisation that the level of compaction of genes or their localisation within the cell nucleus may be very important for gene activation and gene silencing, especially in a developmental context. In order to better understand these phenomena, we have focussed on specific clusters of genes - the Hox complexes.

Hox genes ensure the proper development of the embryo by organising the embryonic structures along the antero-posterior axis. Given their crucial role, mutations of these genes often result in developmental anomalies or embryonic death. In mammals, there are four clusters of Hox genes (A, B, C and D), which are highly related to each other in sequence and organisation but which function in different aspects of development. Within each cluster there is a correspondence between the linear order of the genes on the chromosome and their sequence of activation in the developing embryo - the colinearity rule. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying this exquisite gene regulation are poorly understood.