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Evolutionary mechanisms of epigenomic and chromosomal aberrations in cancer

Final Report Summary - EVOEPIC (Evolutionary mechanisms of epigenomic and chromosomal aberrations in cancer)

Cells are functioning in complex and flexible fashions by making decision regarding which genes to work with at each cell type, tissue or condition. Understanding how these decisions are being made is extremely important since genes that are becoming active in the wrong place or the wrong time cause disease, and since genes that fail to become active upon request prevent cells from performing their normal function. In many disease, such as cancer, aberrant control of genes is a critical mechanism. Our project combined development of novel and sensitive methods for understanding how genes are regulated, with analysis of the implicated mechanism in models for normal development and for cancer. Our project provide better understanding of one of the key questions in the field: how do cells remember their initial decision to activate or repress a gene, even though they must duplicate and proliferate, or differentiate to acquire additional functions. By combining methods from biology, computer science, physics and chemistry, our ERC project introduced techniques for profiling gene expression (RNA) and chromosomal structures at single cell resolution, such that we could trace how single cell control their programs much more sensitively than previously possible.