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Academics

College of Life Science and Bioengineering

With the specialization of biology, brain science, medical science, and IT/NT, KAIST has accumulated academic capability in the area of biology. The College of Life Science and Bioengineering was founded to efficiently support the fusion research environment of KI for Biocentury at KAIST.

The College of Life Science and Bioengineering is composed of the Department of Biological Sciences, Department of Bio & Brain Engineering, and Graduate School of Medical Science & Engineering. The college pursues multidisciplinary education & research in the area of biology and the development of modern science through the fusion of the IT & NT foundation techniques for the development of the nation’s biological science and technology.

The Department of Biological Sciences fosters scientists and engineers of life science and biotechnology equipped with creative research skills to lead in the development of science and technology in the area of biological sciences and excellent scientists equipped with future oriented thinking and a holistic personality.

The multidisciplinary Department of Bio & Brain Engineering fosters a creative workforce that is capable of creating new knowledge and techniques in the fusion areas of electronics, computers, and nanotechnology based on biomedical science.

The Graduate School of Medical Science & Engineering is catered to doctors (specialists), graduates from medical schools, dental schools, and schools of oriental medicine for the development of new medicine and medical devices. The Graduate School of Medical Science & Engineering was established with the purpose of developing life sciences and medical technology and fostering a high-quality workforce equipped with a multidisciplinary knowledge in basic medicine, life science, and biomedical engineering, as well as research experience.

Academic Degree Curriculum
Academic Degree Curriculum
Department/Major Bachelor's Courses Master's Courses Doctoral Courses Office of Academic Affairs Website
Department of Biological Sciences
042-350-2602(F.2610) Homepage go
Graduate School of Medical Science and Engineering
  042-350-4232(F.4240) Homepage go
Interdisciplinary Majors and Educational Programs
Education Program
College
(Department/Major)
Interdisciplinary Majors and Educational Programs Bachelor's Courses Master's Courses Doctoral Courses Office of Academic Affairs Website
Graduate School of Medical Science and Engineering
Biomedical Science and Engineering
Interdisciplinary Program
  042-350-4232(F.4240) Homepage go
※ Department of Bio and Brain Engineering is changed of affiliation from College of Life Science and Bioengineering to College of Engineering on March 1st, 2015.
KAIST COMPASS in Life Science & Bioengineering
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News
 
Scientists Discover the Mechanism of DNA High-Order Structure Formation

Scientists Discover the Mechanism of DNA High-Order Structure Formation 이미지1

(Molecular structures of Abo1 in different energy states (left), Demonstration of an Abo1-assisted histone loading onto DNA by the DNA curtain assay.)


The genetic material of our cells—DNA—exists in a high-order structure called “chromatin”. Chromatin consists of DNA wrapped around histone proteins and efficiently packs DNA into a small volume. Moreover, using a spool and thread analogy, chromatin allows DNA to be locally wound or unwound, thus enabling genes to be enclosed or exposed. The misregulation of chromatin structures results in aberrant gene expression and can ultimately lead to developmental disorders or cancers. Despite the importance of DNA high-order structures, the complexity of the underlying machinery has circumvented molecular dissection.

For the first time, molecular biologists have uncovered how one particular mechanism uses energy to ensure proper histone placement onto DNA to form chromatin. They published their results on Dec. 17 in Nature Communications.

The study focused on proteins called histone chaperones. Histone chaperones are responsible for adding and removing specific histones at specific times during the DNA packaging process. The wrong histone at the wrong time and place could result in the misregulation of gene expression or aberrant DNA replication. Thus, histone chaperones are key players in the assembly and disassembly of chromatin.

“In order to carefully control the assembly and disassembly of chromatin units, histone chaperones act as molecular escorts that prevent histone aggregation and undesired interactions,” said Professor Ji-Joon Song in the Department of Biological Sciences at KAIST. “We set out to understand how a unique histone chaperone uses chemical energy to assemble or disassemble chromatin.”

Song and his team looked to Abo1, the only known histone chaperone that utilizes cellular energy (ATP). While Abo1 is found in yeast, it has an analogous partner in other organisms, including humans, called ATAD2. Both use ATP, which is produced through a cellular process where enzymes break down a molecule’s phosphate bond. ATP energy is typically used to power other cellular processes, but it is a rare partner for histone chaperones.

“This was an interesting problem in the field because all other histone chaperones studied to date do not use ATP,” Song said.

By imaging Abo1 with a single-molecule fluorescence imaging technique known as the DNA curtain assay, the researchers could examine the protein interactions at the single-molecule level. The technique allows scientists to arrange the DNA molecules and proteins on a single layer of a microfluidic chamber and examine the layer with fluorescence microscopy.

The researchers found through real-time observation that Abo1 is ring-shaped and changes its structure to accommodate a specific histone and deposit it on DNA. Moreover, they found that the accommodating structural changes are powered by ADP.

“We discovered a mechanism by which Abo1 accommodates histone substrates, ultimately allowing it to function as a unique energy-dependent histone chaperone,” Song said. “We also found that despite looking like a protein disassembly machine, Abo1 actually loads histone substrates onto DNA to facilitate chromatin assembly.”

The researchers plan to continue exploring how energy-dependent histone chaperones bind and release histones, with the ultimate goal of developing therapeutics that can target cancer-causing misbehavior by Abo1’s analogous human counterpart, ATAD2.

Profile

-Professor Ji-Joon Song ( www.song-kaist.org)
Associate Professor
Department of Biological Sciences
Email:songj@kaist.ac.kr
KI for the BioCentury (https://kis.kaist.ac.kr/index.php?mid=KIB_O) KAIST

-Dr. Carol Cho
Department of Biological Sciences
The Research Center for Natural Sciences
KI for the BioCentury (https://kis.kaist.ac.kr/index.php?mid=KIB_O) KAIST

Newsletter
Department of Biological Sciences KAIST COMPASS
Contact Information for the College of Life Science and Bioengineering: 042-350-ext.

Office of the Dean of the College of Life Science and Bioengineering: 2125
College of Life Science and Bioengineering Academic and Student Affairs Team: 1401, 1409, Fax: 1400

KAIST, 291 Daehak-ro, Yuseong-gu, Daejeon 34141, Republic of Korea

T. 042-350-2114 / F. 042-350-2210 (2220)

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