One of the major challenges facing molecular biology is determining how a cell’s genetic information defines its cell type and cellular state. Many genetic conditions are caused by mutated gene expression.    

How genetics defines a cell

Gene regulation looks at the variety of mechanisms that cells use to turn genes on or off, such as chemical modifications and regulatory proteins. It’s an important part of normal development with each gene dictating the type of cell and the function it performs.   

Experts in epigenetics and gene expression

UNSW School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences has a consortium of forward-thinking experts focused on epigenetics and the regulation of gene expression. Our research is based on understanding how cells regulate their genes to develop, communicate and carry out specific tasks throughout the body.    

We employ a combination of molecular cell biology, cell culture, gene expression analysis, RNA-sequencing, flow cytometry, CRISPR gene editing approaches and bioinformatics to study genes on a grand scale. We also look at quantitative PCR on a single gene level. This research includes working on DNA-binding proteins, stem cells and artificial transcription factors to alter gene expression.   

UNSW scientist Professor Merlin Crossley led an international team to introduce beneficial mutations into blood cells to boost their production of foetal haemoglobin. The landmark study can alleviate the symptoms of common genetic blood disorders like Beta Thalassemia and Sickle Cell Anaemia.

Professor Merlin Crossley
UNSW Sydney Scientist Professor Merlin Crossley

The importance of gene regulation

By developing ways to artificially regulate the expression of genes, we can contribute to cancer research, the examination of cancer cells and their transcriptional regulations; further amplifying the important implications of gene regulation research on gene therapy and human disease.