$1.25M Grant Supports Transcriptional Attenuation Research, Could Impact Therapeutic Gene Silencing

Levin-200Dr. David E. Levin, professor and chair of the Department of Molecular & Cell Biology at Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine, has received a four-year National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant of $1.25 million for Control of Transcriptional Attenuation of Stress-Induced Genes in Yeast.

The grant runs from July 23, 2012, through April 30, 2016. Dr. Levin worked with Research Assistant Professor of Molecular & Cell Biology Dr. Ki-Young Kim in preparing this grant.

Dr. Levin describes transcriptional attenuation as a mechanism for maintaining stress-induced genes in a “primed” state, ready to be induced when needed. It works by allowing a low level of transcription to be initiated under non-stress conditions, which is then squelched by premature termination of transcription. Under stress conditions, premature termination is relieved to allow productive gene expression. Transcriptional attenuation may provide a new approach to therapeutic gene silencing.

“We have found that a large number of genes that are induced by a wide variety of stress conditions are subject to transcriptional attenuation,” Dr. Levin says. “This result and other findings suggest that there exist many distinct attenuation-relief factors that act in specific transcriptional settings. We hope to identify a variety of novel attenuation-relief factors that act on specific genes in response to different stress conditions. We also hope to understand better the mechanism by which attenuation is controlled by these factors.”

“I would like to congratulate Dr. Levin on his continued research success in the area of transcriptional attenuation,” said Dean Jeffrey W. Hutter. “This is a vitally important area of research with great potential for innovation and I appreciate that Dr. Levin is contributing to research as a whole at the Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine.”