PROJECT 1 The Genetic and Epigenetic Basis for FSIHD We have demonstrated that FSHD is caused by a contraction-cfepencfenf (FSHD1) or contractionindependent (FSHD2) change in chromatin structure of D4Z4 only when this contraction occurs on a specific genetic background (4qA161). This leads to the hypothesis that a change in D4Z4 chromatin structure on the 4qA161 haplotype is essential for FSHD pathology. Therefore, the long-term goal is to identify the specific DNA sequences and the epigenetic modifications that together confer pathogenicity to 4qA161.
Aim 1 will identify and functionally characterize the disease haplotype-specific sequence variants of the distal repeat unit and flanking pLAM sequence. Recent studies identified this part of the FSHD locus as the minimal essential region;
Aim 2 will identify and functionally characterize the chromatin structure of this minimal essential region test the hypothesis that the D4Z4 repeats regulate DUX4 expression and have a biological role in early embryonic development;
and Aim 3 will determine the genetic and epigenetic characteristics of D4Z4 in human ES cells to establish the developmental role of D4Z4 in relation to the clinical features of FSHD.
The significance of these studies is that identifying the genetic and epigenetic conditions required for FSHD will provide fundamental insight into the pathophysiology of FSHD as well as providing new avenues for interventional therapies.
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