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A new player in the regulation of epigenetics

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The team of Raphael Margueron, together with that of Deborah Bourc’his and other international teams, highlighted the role of a new key player in the regulation of genes and its dysfunction that can lead to different diseases.

Gene expression, i.e. the control of their use by a given cell at a given time, responds to complex mechanisms. A group of proteins called Polycomb contributes to the orchestration of genes, reducing them to silence when they should be inhibited by the phenomenon called epigenetics. “In mammals, the “Polycomb machinery” is composed of dozens of proteins,” says Raphael Margueron, researcher at Institut Curie (U934 INSERM/CNRS UMR3215). His team is taking a close interest in this group and other players that are moving around to indicate to the Polycomb group proteins which genes should be blocked from expression.

In this context, Raphael Margueron and his colleagues have worked to highlight the role of a previously unknown player in these processes: EZHIP. Its intervention is necessary for the maturation of female gametes (reproductive cells). Their discovery published in Nature Communications comes at the same time that other teams have revealed the role of EZHIP in many types of children’s brain cancer. Highlighting their scientific and medical interests, these different revelations were put into perspective in the Nature journal where the authors note that “these studies lay the groundwork for exploring the role of this protein in triggering cancer and indicate that targeting PRC2 or EZHIP may have therapeutic potential for children with [these cancers]”. With these promising advances, “we will continue to study this co-factor to understand why it is so important,” promises Raphael Margueron.