Folding DNA Incorrectly May Lead to Autoimmune Disease


Our mothers may have taught us how to fold our clothes for easier placement in our dresser drawers, but proper folding appears to be important in the development of type I diabetes, an autoimmune disorder.  Researchers have worked long and hard to understand how autoimmune diseases develop in search of prevention and treatment.  Our understanding of genetics has progressed alongside immunological research, allowing the latter to advance as we can peer into DNA sequences with more and more precision.  With that precision and insight, we have realized that the sequence of DNA letters was not the only factor in disease development.  In some cases, the actual folding of a DNA sequence would alter expression of a gene.  If a stretch of DNA is buried inside a fold, it could not be transcribed into a protein as efficiently.

In this study, researchers found that the folding of a certain DNA sequence inside T cells affected the rate of type I diabetes development.  We knew that mutations in DNA far away from a gene sometimes affected the gene’s activity.  Changes in folding appears to be one of the mechanisms by which this distant mutation can cause such a drastic change so far away genetically.

The geek side of this functional MD comes out in saying that this stuff is so awesome.  Seeing the intricacy of how God designed us with such complex layers even in the folding our of genes is awe-inspiring.  Now I pray that we can use discoveries like this to help patients live healthier more abundant lives.


Original Article:

Maria Fasolino, Naomi Goldman, Wenliang Wang, Benjamin Cattau, Yeqiao Zhou, Jelena Petrovic, Verena M. Link, Allison Cote, Aditi Chandra, Michael Silverman, Eric F. Joyce, Shawn C. Little, Klaus H. Kaestner, Ali Naji, Arjun Raj, Jorge Henao-Mejia, Robert B. Faryabi, Golnaz Vahedi. Genetic Variation in Type 1 Diabetes Reconfigures the 3D Chromatin Organization of T Cells and Alters Gene Expression. Immunity, 2020; DOI: 10.1016/j.immuni.2020.01.003


Thanks to Science Daily:

University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. “DNA misfolding in white blood cells increases risk for type 1 diabetes.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 February 2020. <>.

Sanctuary Functional Medicine, under the direction of Dr Eric Potter, IFMCP MD, provides functional medicine services to Nashville, Middle Tennessee and beyond. We frequently treat patients from Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, and more... offering the hope of healthier more abundant lives to those with chronic illness.

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