Bryan Turner’s research has changed perceptions of how the packaging of DNA in humans and other organisms regulates the way in which genes operate. He showed that the enzyme-catalyzed modification of specific amino acids along the major DNA-packaging proteins, the histones, is a key component of the molecular mechanisms by which genes are regulated.
Through the preparation and experimental use of novel antibodies, he showed that individual modifications exert different functional effects. This led him to propose that combinations of histone modifications, recognized by modification-specific binding proteins, might act in concert with the genetic code, to regulate gene expression. In over 20 years of research, this proposition has been validated and extended by laboratories across the world.
The new paradigm resulting from Bryan Turner’s ideas and experiments has stimulated ongoing research into how genes are influenced by environmental agents, including therapeutic drugs, dietary components and signals released by organisms themselves. The understanding it brings is central to the rapidly expanding field of epigenetics and its application to medicine, agriculture and biotechnology.
Professor of Experimental Genetics, School of Cancer Sciences and the Birmingham CRUK Centre