Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Discovery Will Change The Way Researchers Look At DNA Transcription, Scientists Say

Date:
August 1, 2001
Source:
University Of North Carolina At Chapel Hill
Summary:
Biological chemists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill say a discovery they have made about how living organisms convert genetic instructions into action represents a fundamental advance in the understanding of the flow of genetic information.

CHAPEL HILL – Biological chemists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill say a discovery they have made about how living organisms convert genetic instructions into action represents a fundamental advance in the understanding of the flow of genetic information.

The UNC scientists have found a previously unknown chemical site on a key enzyme that regulates production of the genetic messenger known as RNA. When the chemical site is occupied, it markedly speeds up the process by which the information contained in DNA, which serves as genetic blueprints, is converted into functions critical for maintaining life.

A report on the discovery appears in the July 27 issue of Cell, a scientific journal. Authors are Dr. Dorothy A. Erie, assistant professor of chemistry; Dr. J. Estelle Foster, a former student of Erie’s now at Eli Lilly and Company, the pharmaceutical manufacturer; and chemistry doctoral student Shannon F. Holmes.

“The information for all the genes in an organism is contained in its DNA, which is like a very long book of instructions,” Erie said. “For this information to be translated into function, sections of the DNA must be copied into an RNA chain. The RNA is then translated into proteins that must carry out countless particular functions such as wound healing , which is at the end of a complicated cascade of events in the body.”

Transcription is the process of making RNA chains from DNA, and RNA polymerase is the enzyme responsible for causing and controlling production of the RNA chain, she said. Erie’s laboratory investigates how the enzyme governing the first step in gene expression works.

“Our recent studies have led to discovery of an additional site on RNA polymerase to which the precursor molecule can bind,” the chemist said. “The precursor molecules can be thought of as links in the growing RNA chain.”

In a series of complicated experiments with the enzyme from the bacterium E. coli, she and her students found that when the precursor molecule does not occupy the newly discovered site, the enzyme copies the DNA slowly. When the molecule occupies the site, production of RNA kicks into overdrive. The process then occurs about 10 times faster than it would otherwise.

“Such rapid synthesis is believed to be essential for proper cellular function,” Erie said. “The discovery of this additional binding site, which we call an allosteric site, will dramatically change the view of how transcription is regulated in cells.”

She and others had thought such a site might exist because transcription of large genes would be too slow otherwise, she said. In a sense, the site can be thought of as a way by which the molecule can ignore or bypass biochemical stoplights on a major highway.

Like many scientists elsewhere, Erie’s laboratory concentrates on bacteria because proteins are similar from one organism to the next, and what they learn in bacteria usually applies to other species.

“Many cancers involve over-expression or improper expression of genes, and some are regulated at the level of transcription,” she said. “If we want to understand how these illnesses occur, then we have to understand the details of RNA polymerase, which people have been studying for 40 years. Knowing now that there are two binding sites on the enzyme instead of one will enable scientists to interpret data they collect much more accurately and create a truer picture of what’s going on.”

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences supported the research.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of North Carolina At Chapel Hill. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of North Carolina At Chapel Hill. "Discovery Will Change The Way Researchers Look At DNA Transcription, Scientists Say." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 August 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/07/010730081253.htm>.
University Of North Carolina At Chapel Hill. (2001, August 1). Discovery Will Change The Way Researchers Look At DNA Transcription, Scientists Say. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/07/010730081253.htm
University Of North Carolina At Chapel Hill. "Discovery Will Change The Way Researchers Look At DNA Transcription, Scientists Say." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/07/010730081253.htm (accessed August 1, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Friday, August 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

House Republicans Vote to Sue Obama Over Healthcare Law

House Republicans Vote to Sue Obama Over Healthcare Law

Reuters - US Online Video (July 31, 2014) The Republican-led House of Representatives votes to sue President Obama, accusing him of overstepping his executive authority in making changes to the Affordable Care Act. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Despite Health Questions, E-Cigs Are Beneficial: Study

Despite Health Questions, E-Cigs Are Beneficial: Study

Newsy (July 31, 2014) Citing 81 previous studies, new research out of London suggests the benefits of smoking e-cigarettes instead of regular ones outweighs the risks. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

AP (July 31, 2014) Sarasota County, Florida health officials have issued a warning against eating raw oysters and exposing open wounds to coastal and inland waters after a dangerous bacteria killed one person and made another sick. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins