The availability of whole genome sequence data from a growing number of species including humans, mice, zebrafish and Xenopus has led to the development of rapid screening methods (e.g. RNAi or morpholinos), to identify genes or proteins that are differentially up or down regulated, as a result of physiological or developmental circumstances in tissues, or as a result of a disease state.
The development of these high throughput procedures has led to large investments in functional genomics and proteomics to understand the function of all genes and their encoded proteins. This IP represents the EU part of the International Regulome Consortium (IRC), a worldwide consortium, that coordinates a third generation genomics project that addresses the regulation of expression of information embedded in the genome by mapping the genetic regulatory networks that control the renewal and differentiation of (embryonic) stem cells. EuTRACC will focus on mapping the transcriptional circuitry on the molecular level and how it controls the formation of neural tissue and the blood system. The human and mouse genome contain approximately 2,000 identifiable transcription factors, which together control in all cells the expression of all other genes in the nucleus in response to signals coming from outside the nucleus or cell. Thus they form the basis of the developmental processes that lead to the generation and renewal of all tissues and they are key to the response of any organism to its environment.
Understanding this regulatory network is one of the big challenges of biology in the next decade. It will provide much better insight into the normal and abnormal formation of stem cells and tissues and into disease processes and be an essential part of future developments of medicine and biotechnology, in particular those areas that are concerned with stem cell biology. This IP will provide a very substantial impetus to fundamental and translational research by making its data publicly available and seeking new collaborations and alliances where appropriate (e.g. with crystallography groups to analyze the structure of transcription factor complexes). The expectation is therefore that this IP will substantially contribute to the development of novel therapies and improved health benefits for society.
This IP provides an excellent opportunity for the EU to strengthen its competitive position in this area by bringing together a group of excellent researchers with a high level of expertise in the different areas required for a successful and comprehensive and integrated approach. The IP is part of a larger initiative taken by the IRC, a consortium of leaders in the field of genetics and genomics, transcriptional regulation, analysis of protein complexes, database compilation and modelling from Canada, US, Singapore, Australia and Europe. Importantly genomic research is an essential component of an innovation based economy, generating Intellectual Property, leading to the development of new technologies, providing the basis for new companies and stimulating employment in new industries.