DNA graphic

Laura Carrel, PhD

Associate Professor
The Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine

Targeting the Inactive X Chromosome in Lupus

Lupus affects nine times more women than men. One explanation for this phenomenon lies in the difference between women’s and men’s chromosomes, the long pieces of DNA within each cell that contain our genes lined up one after the other like recipes in a cookbook. Women have two X chromosomes, while men have one X and one Y chromosome. Dr. Laura Carrel is investigating how this difference in the number of X chromosomes might cause women to be more susceptible to lupus than men.

Normally, in a woman’s cells, the genes on one of her X chromosomes are active and those on the other are turned off or inactive. But Dr. Carrel has shown that in all women, about 10% of genes on the “inactive” X chromosome escape from the inactivation process and are actually active. She hypothesizes that the level of gene activity on the inactive chromosome might be even higher in women with lupus. To test this theory, Dr. Carrel will study the immune cells of women with and without lupus to find X chromosome genes that are more active in women with lupus. x

What this study means to people with lupus

This research project will help us understanding the biology of lupus and point to new targets for drug discovery.

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