Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Technology
Networks
Scientific Communities
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Ancient Enzymes Function like Nanopistons to Unwind RNA

Published: Wednesday, September 05, 2012
Last Updated: Wednesday, September 05, 2012
Bookmark and Share
Molecular biologists have solved one of the mysteries of how double-stranded RNA is remodeled inside cells in both their normal and disease states.

The discovery may have implications for treating cancer and viruses in humans.

The research, which was published this week in Nature, found that DEAD-box proteins, which are ancient enzymes found in all forms of life, function as recycling “nanopistons.”

They use chemical energy to clamp down and pry open RNA strands, thereby enabling the formation of new structures. This remodeling of RNA is essential to the basic functioning of cells.

“If you want to couple fuel energy to mechanical work to drive strand separation, this is a very versatile mechanism,” said co-author Alan Lambowitz, the Nancy Lee and Perry R. Bass Regents Chair in Molecular Biology in the College of Natural Sciences and director of the Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology.

In all cellular organisms RNA (ribonucleic acid) plays a fundamental role in the translation of genetic information into the synthesis of proteins. DEAD-box proteins are the largest family of what are known as RNA helicases, which unwind RNA.

“It has been known for some time that these enzymes do not function like traditional helicases,” said Eckhard Jankowsky, professor of biochemistry at Case Western Reserve University Medical School.

“The research by Lambowitz and his colleagues now provides the critical information that explains how the unwinding reaction works. It marks a major step toward understanding the molecular mechanics for many steps in RNA biology.”

Lambowitz said that the basic insight came when Anna Mallam, a postdoctoral researcher in his lab, hypothesized that DEAD-box proteins function modularly. One area on the protein binds to an ATP molecule, which is the energy source. Another area binds to the double-stranded RNA.

“Once the second domain is latched on to the RNA,” said Mallam, “and the first has got its ATP, the ‘piston’ comes down. It has a sharp edge that drives between the two strands and also grabs on one strand and bends it out of the way.”

Lambowitz, Mallam and their colleagues uncovered this mechanism in Mss116p, a DEAD-box protein in yeast. The mechanism is almost certainly universal to the entire family of the proteins, however, and therefore to all domains of life.


“Every DEAD-box protein that we know about has the same structure,” said Lambowitz, “and they all presumably use the same mechanism.”


This flexibility of DEAD-box proteins is essential to the functioning of healthy cells, which rely on a range of RNA molecules for basic processes, including protein synthesis.


This flexibility is also hijacked in cancers — where over-expression of DEAD-box proteins may help drive uncontrolled cell proliferation — and in infections caused by bacteria, fungi and viruses, which rely on specific DEAD-box proteins for their propagation.


“These findings could have far-reaching implications for our ability to control the activities of proteins in this class when their functions go awry in disease states,” said Michael Bender, program director in the Division of Genetics and Developmental Biology at the National Institutes of Health, which partially funded the work.

Lambowitz even sees potential, much further down the line, for using the nanopistons as the basis of biomedical technology.


“You can even envision, in the far future, how they might be incorporated into artificial nanomachines,” he said, “for switches and other mechanical devices inside and outside the cell.”


Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 3,100+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More Than 4,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

New Breast Cancer Staging System
Neo-Bioscore adds HER2 status into previously developed system.
Monday, March 21, 2016
Prostate Cancer Surgery Improved
Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have determined that light reflectance spectroscopy can differentiate between malignant and benign prostate tissue with 85 percent accuracy, a finding that may lead to real-time tissue analysis during prostate cancer surgery.
Monday, March 14, 2016
Leukemia’s Surroundings Key to its Growth
Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have discovered that a type of cancer found primarily in children can grow only when signaled to do so by other nearby cells that are noncancerous.
Friday, February 12, 2016
Flesh-Eating Bacteria Work Together
Scientists recently discovered different strains of deadly flesh-eating bacteria working together to spread infection and they now have a better understanding of the role of the toxins they produce. The discovery could change how the illness and other diseases are treated.
Wednesday, January 27, 2016
Utilizing Antibodies from Ebola Survivors
A collaborative team from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, Vanderbilt University, The Scripps Research Institute and Integral Molecular Inc. have learned that antibodies in the blood of people who have survived a strain of the Ebola virus can kill various types of Ebola.
Wednesday, January 27, 2016
Mechanism of Tumor Suppressing Gene Uncovered
The most commonly mutated gene in cancer,p53, works to prevent tumor formation by keeping mobile elements in check that otherwise lead to genomic instability, UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers have found.
Tuesday, January 26, 2016
Gene-Editing Halts DMD Progression
Using a new gene-editing technique, a team of scientists from UT Southwestern Medical Center stopped progression of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) in young mice.
Tuesday, January 05, 2016
Fighting Pain with Ketamine
Researchers at the Texas A&M Health Science Center are using ketamine, a drug that already exists as an anesthetic, to treat pain.
Friday, October 16, 2015
NASA Award Grant To Develop Platform For Detecting Amino Acids
A University of Texas at Arlington researcher will develop a platform that could help scientists move one step closer to answering whether life may have existed “out there” or if we are really alone in the universe.
Tuesday, September 08, 2015
Electrical Control of Cancer Cells
Research led by scientists at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) has revealed a new electrical mechanism that can control these switches.
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Mass Extinctions Can Accelerate Evolution
A computer science team at The University of Texas at Austin has found that robots evolve more quickly and efficiently after a virtual mass extinction modeled after real-life disasters such as the one that killed off the dinosaurs.
Tuesday, August 18, 2015
Critical New Insights on DNA Repair
The enzyme fumarase is key to reversing genetic damage leading to cancer and therapy resistance.
Wednesday, August 05, 2015
Researchers Develop Vaccine that Protects Primates Against Ebola
A collaborative team from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and the National Institutes of Health have developed an inhalable vaccine that protects primates against Ebola.
Thursday, July 23, 2015
Can Cell Cycle Protein Prevent or Kill Breast Cancer Tumors?
An MD Anderson study has shown the potential of a simple molecule involved in cancer metabolism as a powerful therapeutic.
Monday, July 20, 2015
Partly Human Yeast Show A Common Ancestor’s Lasting Legacy
Edward Marcotte and his colleagues at the University of Texas at Austin created hundreds of strains of humanized yeast by inserting into each a single human gene and turning off the corresponding yeast gene.
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
Scientific News
The Rise of 3D Cell Culture and in vitro Model Systems for Drug Discovery and Toxicology
An overview of the current technology and the challenges and benefits over 2D cell culture models plus some of the latest advances relating to human health research.
World’s Largest Coral Gene Database
‘Genetic toolkit’ will help shed light on which species survive climate change.
A Boost for Regenerative Medicine
Growing tissues and organs in the lab for transplantation into patients could become easier after scientists discovered an effective way to produce three-dimensional networks of blood vessels, vital for tissue survival yet a current stumbling block in regenerative medicine.
Breast Cancer Drug Hope
A drug for breast cancer that is more effective than existing medicines may be a step closer thanks to new research.
Untangling Disease-Related Protein Misfolding
Work advances understanding of genetic forms of thrombosis, emphysema, cirrhosis of the liver, neurodegenerative diseases and inflammation, among others.
Early Genetic Changes in Premalignant Colorectal Tissue Identified
Findings point to drivers of early cancer development, targets for cancer prevention therapies.
Harnessing Nature’s Vast Array of Venoms for Drug Discovery
Scripps scientists have developed a method for rapidly identifying venoms.
Nanoparticles Target, Transform Fat Tissue
Nanoparticles designed to target white fat and convert it to calorie-burning brown fat slowed weight gain in obese mice without affecting food intake. This proof-of-concept work could lead to new therapies to treat obesity.
New Cancer Fighters Emerge From Lab
Rice University lab simplifies total synthesis of anti-cancer agent.
Scientists Find Evidence That Cancer Can Arise Changes
Researchers at Rockefeller University have found a mutation that affects the proteins that package DNA without changing the DNA itself can cause a rare form of cancer.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
3,100+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,500+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!