(Press-News.org) The code determines the recognition of RNA molecules by a superfamily of RNA-binding proteins called pentatricopeptide repeat (PPR) proteins.
When a gene is switched on, it is copied into RNA. This RNA is then used to make proteins that are required by the organism for all of its vital functions. If a gene is defective, its RNA copy and the proteins made from this will also be defective. This forms the basis of many terrible genetic disorders in humans.
RNA-binding PPR proteins could revolutionise the way we treat disease. Their secret is their versatility - they can find and bind a specific RNA molecule, and have the capacity to correct it if it is defective, or destroy it if it is detrimental. They can also help ramp up production of proteins required for growth and development.
The new paper in PLOS Genetics describes for the first time how PPR proteins recognise their RNA targets via an easy-to-understand code. This mechanism mimics the simplicity and predictability of the pairing between DNA strands described by Watson and Crick 60 years ago, but at a protein/RNA interface.
This exceptional breakthrough comes from an international, interdisciplinary research team including UWA researchers Professor Ian Small and Aaron Yap from the ARC Centre for Excellence in Plant Energy Biology and Professor Charlie Bond and Yee Seng Chong from UWA's School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, along with Professor Alice Barkan's team at the University of Oregon. This research was publicly funded by the ARC and the WA State Government in Australia and the NSF in the USA.
"Many PPR proteins are vitally important, but we don't know what they do. Now we've cracked the code, we can find out," said ARC Plant Energy Biology Director Ian Small.
"What's more, we can now design our own synthetic proteins to target any RNA sequence we choose - this should allow us to control the expression of genes in new ways that just weren't available before. The potential is really exciting."
"This discovery was made in plants but is applicable across many species as PPR proteins are found in humans and animals too," says Professor Bond.
### The open access PLOS journal paper is available here. http://www.plosgenetics.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pgen.1002910
Images available http://www.plantenergy.uwa.edu.au/news/news.shtml: PPR protein binding site cartoon (Image credit: Charlie Bond), Ian Small professional photo.
University of Western Australia
Molecular code cracked
Potential for future treatments of genetic disease
ELSE PRESS RELEASES FROM THIS DATE:
PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 20, 2012 — With 1.3 billion tons of food trashed, dumped in landfills and otherwise wasted around the world every year, scientists today described development and successful laboratory testing of a new "biorefinery" intended to change food waste into a key ingredient for making plastics, laundry detergents and scores of other everyday products. Their report on a project launched in cooperation with the Starbucks restaurant chain - concerned with sustainability and seeking a use for spent coffee grounds and stale bakery goods - came at the 244th National ...
PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 20, 2012 — Scientists are trying to open a new front in the battle against gum disease, the leading cause of tooth loss in adults and sometimes termed the most serious oral health problem of the 21st century. They described another treatment approach for the condition in a report here today at the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society. "Our technology uses controlled-release capsules filled with a protein that would be injected in the pockets between the gums and the teeth," said ...
PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 20, 2012 — A gallon of regular gasoline cost 31 cents, a first-class postage stamp 4 cents and an office visit to the doctor's office $5. John F. Kennedy was president. Lawrence of Arabia won the Academy Award for Best Picture. A new band called The Rolling Stones got lots of attention. It was 1962, and today scientists are gathering here for a special symposium honoring the 50th anniversary of an agency that has improved the health and well-being of millions of people over the last half-century. The event, marking the golden anniversary of the National ...
PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 20, 2012 — Should Lady Justice, that centuries-old personification of truth and fairness in the legal system, cast off her ancient Roman robe, sword and scales and instead embrace 21st century symbols of justice meted out objectively without fear or favor? A scientist's laboratory jacket, perhaps? And a spiral strand of the genetic material DNA? An unusual symposium that might beg such a question - showcasing chemistry's role in righting some of the highest-profile cases of innocent people proven guilty - unfolds today at the 244th National Meeting ...
PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 20, 2012 — With concerns about the possible health and environmental effects of oil dispersants in the Deepwater Horizon disaster still fresh in mind, scientists today described a new dispersant made from edible ingredients that both breaks up oil slicks and keeps oil from sticking to the feathers of birds. "Each of the ingredients in our dispersant is used in common food products like peanut butter, chocolate and whipped cream," said Lisa K. Kemp, Ph.D. She reported on the dispersant at the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical ...
PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 20, 2012 — A new process for converting municipal waste, algae, corn stalks and similar material to gasoline, diesel and jet fuel is showing the same promise in larger plants as it did in laboratory-scale devices, the developers reported here today. It was part of the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world's largest scientific society, which continues through Thursday. "These results are essential in establishing the credibility of a process that may seem too good to be within the realm of possibility," ...
PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 20, 2012 — People in ancient Rome 2,000 years ago had better access to clean water and sanitation that keeps disease-causing human excrement out of contact with people than many residents of the 21st century, a scientist said here today. Women in developing countries could play a major role in remedying the situation, if given the chance, she added. Jeanette A. Brown, Ph.D., spoke on the global crisis in availability of clean water and basic sanitation like toilets and sewage disposal at the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical ...
PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 20, 2012 — New scientific analysis strengthens the view that record-breaking summer heat, crop-withering drought and other extreme weather events in recent years do, indeed, result from human activity and global warming, Nobel Laureate Mario J. Molina, Ph.D., said here today. Molina, who shared the 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for helping save the world from the consequences of ozone depletion, presented the keynote address at the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society. The meeting, ...
The number of new cases of heart failure in Ontario decreased 33% over a decade, suggesting preventive efforts may be working. However, mortality rates remain high for people with the disease, states a study published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal). Heart failure is a major cause of admission to hospital and has a high death rate for patients. In recent decades, the incidence has been increasing; in 2000, patients with heart failure accounted for the second highest number of days in hospital in Canada. However, there is some recent evidence that the number ...
Canada needs a national approach to managing its supply of pharmaceutical drugs, starting with a mandatory reporting system for drug shortages, argues an editorial in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) and CPJ (Canadian Pharmacists Journal). Shortages of drugs, particularly those used in chemotherapy, as well as antibiotics, antiepileptics and anesthetics, have become increasingly common, unpredictable and widespread in Canada. These shortages result in poorer health for Canadians, with consequences such as worsening of medical conditions, negative reactions ...