Pedro M. Fernández Salguero: “Transposons could represent up to 15% of the human genome”

The researcher at the University of Extremadura Peter M. Salguero Fernandez explained their latest advances in research on the role of transposons, short DNA sequences that move around the genome, on gene regulation. It was on October 28 in the cycle of seminars IDIBELL.

Salguero Fernandez stressed the need to study this genetic material, “until recently, considered junk DNA. However, several studies show that they are involved in the regulation of certain genes. “It is important to stress”, the researcher said, “that trasnposons may represent 15% of the human genome and, in fact, all mobile genetic material could represent 40-50%”.

The laboratory led by the researcher focuses on the one hand, to study whether the genes regulated by these elements play a role in germ cell development, i.e. how it might affect fertility, and on the other,

the role that they could have in cancer, especially in migration, invasion and metastasis of tumor cells.

“If it is demonstrated that these elements are important in the regulation of genes that maintain the tumor cell dedifferentiation, the previous step to metastasis, we could study how to modulate these trasnposons as a therapeutic tool.” But Fernandez Salguero has warned that “we are still far from this potential application. In fact, in humans, we know almost nothing about how trasnposons work”.

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