Masters and Slaves

Throughout my scientific career during and after my tenure at Ohio State University, I have promoted the concept of master origins of replication that are associated with tissue differentiation during embryonic development: see Studies on Eukaryotic DNA Superstructure (1988, page 221, pdf download). It is well known that origins of replication “disappear” as tissue differentiation begins. What has been less known is the level of organization associated with their disappearance. That is, until recently: (see links below).

Open chromatin encoded in DNA sequence is the signature of ‘master’ replication origins in human cells. (2009)

Embryonic Stem Cell Specific “Master” Replication Origins at the Heart of the Loss of Pluripotency. 2015

Bottom line: As replication origins disappear, promoters of transcription appear and tissue development begins. This is not mere coincidence. Where do the origins “go” and where do the promoters “come from”?  That, my fellow travelers, is the absolute crux of everything I have been saying throughout this blog and my Ph.D. career.







About frankabernathy

I am a retired cell biologist and alumnus of Ohio State University. I became interested in chromosomes as far back as the 1960's when I wrote a term paper on the effects of radiomimetic drugs on chromosomes. I was fascinated at how they could break apart and reform new structures so easily. I became further involved in the early 1970's after taking a cytogenetics course at the University of Arkansas. I took that knowledge with me to Ohio State in 1980 where I eventually worked on my research and completed my Ph.D. dissertation, "Studies on Eukaryotic DNA Superstructure". My studies and later research suggested that the DNA within the eukaryotic chromosome is not the simple, linear molecular thread so widely suggested in all the classic textbooks published today. Instead, it may be the culmination of a geologically rapid set of endosymbiotic events where microorganisms plug into each other to create something greater than themselves. Feel free to contact me at
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