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uni'wissen 01-2016_ENG

The Asian tiger mosquito (left) and the sandfly carry infectious diseases – and are pressing ever farther north due to global warming. Photos: James Gathany/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Public Health Image Library and bilharzia – with the help of epigenetics. This discipline focuses on the control mechanisms that determine which function within a genome is acti- vated or deactivated at a particular point in time. Like Bookmarks Jung uses an analogy to illustrate the way these epigenetic switches work: Like bookmarks, they ensure that the cell is opened to a particular “page,” a particular epigenetically relevant protein responsible for a specific function. Epigenetic markers determine things like when a caterpillar will change into a butterfly or whether genetically identical bee larvae will develop into workers or queens. The markers are also responsible for seeing to it that divided muscle cells grow into muscle cells again rather than into nerve or bone cells, because every cell includes the complete genome necessary for all cell types present in the organism. A potential means of fighting the parasites is to selectively inhibit their epigenetic processes without causing harm to the infected human. The goal of A-PARADDISE is to find substances capable of this feat. In their lab, Jung and his team are testing hundreds of agents that have been filtered out of millions in a computer screening and found to be worth studying in more detail. “Around one to two hundred proteins serve as genetic regulators in a narrower sense. We are testing selected enzymes with methods from molecular biology and biochemistry to see how they function and what kinds of inhibitors it might be possible to develop,” the scientist explains. “You might compare the search for inhibitors to the process of trying out hundreds 33uni wissen 01 2016 33uni wissen 012016