Gene of the Month - Boris

11 April 2015

Interview with

Kat Arney

And finally, it's our Gene of the Month, and this time it's Boris. Not named after the floppy-haired mayor of London, Boris stands for "Brother of Regulator of Imprinted sites". If that's a bit of a mouthful, it's more usually known as CTCFL, short for CTCF-Like, because it's very similar to a gene called - you guessed it - CTCF. CTCF itself is involved in sticking to certain bits of DNA near genes that are active or switched off depending on whether they were inherited from mum or dad, known as imprinted genes.

First discovered in 2002, Boris is usually only switched on in the cells in the testes that will become sperm in males, and is thought to play a part in setting up the imprints that come from dad. But recent research has shown that Boris is also active in many different types of cancer, potentially causing changes in the pattern of genes that are switched on and off in tumours and driving the disease.

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