Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Carnegie Mellon U Biologists Identify Critical Player In Yeast Ribosome Assembly

Date:
June 8, 2004
Source:
Carnegie Mellon University
Summary:
Carnegie Mellon University biologists are the first to show that minor changes in the tail of one protein cripple yeast's ability to assemble protein-making machines called ribosomes.

PITTSBURGH -- Carnegie Mellon University biologists are the first to show that minor changes in the tail of one protein cripple yeast's ability to assemble protein-making machines called ribosomes. The findings, published in a recent issue of Molecular Cell, ultimately could help scientists develop better drugs to fight fungal infections.

"Our findings are the first to link the structure of a ribosomal protein to a critical step in the pathway to assembling a fully functional ribosome," explained John Woolford, professor of biological sciences at the Mellon College of Science at Carnegie Mellon. "Understanding the molecular basis of ribosome assembly offers a rational scheme for designing drugs to interfere with that process."

A complex of protein and ribonucleic acid (RNA), ribosomes are present in vast quantities inside every cell. There, they translate genetic information into proteins that control many activities, including cell movement, metabolism, division and response to the environment. Because ribosomes are essential for protein production, problems with their assembly inevitably spell cell death.

Woolford found that changing the tail of a ribosomal protein called S14 prevented it from processing a chunk of RNA destined to become part of a mature ribosome. Drugs that target the tail of S14 would likely interfere with ribosome assembly, according to Woolford, who added that such agents would destroy an infectious fungus while leaving animal or plant cells unharmed.

Using processes known as transformation and gene disruption, Woolford's group engineered the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, (common baker's yeast) to contain two genes for S14. One normal, or wild-type, gene instructed production of a fully functional S14 protein, while a mutant gene coded for the production of an S14 with an altered tail. After growing the yeast under normal conditions, Woolford turned off the wild-type gene and observed the consequences when only the mutant gene worked. He found that a slightly altered tail structure prevented the S14 protein from "cutting" its target RNA molecule, thus halting ribosome assembly. Because it wasn't processed, this typically short-lived RNA molecular intermediate accumulated within yeast cells, making it easy to isolate and study. Yeast engineered with mutations in genes for other proteins that direct ribosome assembly should yield even more intermediates for study, according to Woolford, whose research was supported by the National Institutes of Health and reported in the May 7 issue of Molecular Cell.

In collaboration with Martin Farach-Colton at Rutgers University, Woolford is currently developing computer models to outline the many proteins involved in ribosome assembly and the step-by-step process by which various parts come together to make a new ribosome. In addition, Woolford is carrying out genetic experiments to test their idea that certain non-ribosomal proteins that regulate ribosome assembly (called ribosomal assembly factors) also regulate cell proliferation.

"We think that specific ribosome assembly factors we discovered might have a second 'moonlighting' job," said Woolford. "Thus, if such a protein functions in both ribosome assembly and growth regulation, cells could coordinate these two processes by 'talking' to the same molecule in two places."

In this scenario, if a cell told a ribosome assembly factor to stop working, it would effectively shut down ribosome production and at the same time trigger cells to stop dividing. But if that factor failed to hear what the cell dictated, it would continue to build ribosomes and spur cell division that could lead to cancer, according to Woolford.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Carnegie Mellon University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Carnegie Mellon University. "Carnegie Mellon U Biologists Identify Critical Player In Yeast Ribosome Assembly." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 June 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/06/040608065258.htm>.
Carnegie Mellon University. (2004, June 8). Carnegie Mellon U Biologists Identify Critical Player In Yeast Ribosome Assembly. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/06/040608065258.htm
Carnegie Mellon University. "Carnegie Mellon U Biologists Identify Critical Player In Yeast Ribosome Assembly." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/06/040608065258.htm (accessed April 23, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Monkeys Are Better At Math Than We Thought, Study Shows

Monkeys Are Better At Math Than We Thought, Study Shows

Newsy (Apr. 23, 2014) A Harvard University study suggests monkeys can use symbols to perform basic math calculations. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India

Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) A leopard caused panic in the city of Chandrapur on Monday when it sprung from the roof of a house and charged at rescue workers. (April 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs

Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) Drake University hosts 35th annual Beautiful Bulldog Contest. (April 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
805-Pound Shark Caught Off The Coast Of Florida

805-Pound Shark Caught Off The Coast Of Florida

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) One Florida fisherman caught a 805-pound shark off the coast of Florida earlier this month. Video provided by Newsy
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