College of Natural Resources, UC Berkeley

$1.4 M grant funds PMB researcher's work on "jumping genes"

September 9, 2008

Damon Lisch, Ph.D., a research professional in the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology was recently awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation’s Plant Genome Research Program.

The four-year, $1.4 million award supports research on the ways in which genomes recognize and inactivate “jumping genes,” or transposons.

"These molecular parasites can make up the majority of DNA in many species, including humans," Lisch explains. "If not controlled, transposons can be highly disruptive. Fortunately, they can be tamed through the activity of a recently discovered and ancient immune system, which can detect and silence these rogue genes. Interestingly, versions of this system are also used by a wide variety of species to regulate other genes, such as those involved in development and cancer, in such a way that they are only active in the proper times and places."


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