Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Hairpins For Switches: Artificial RNA Ligands Differentiate Between On And Off States Of Riboswitches

Date:
December 13, 2006
Source:
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Summary:
How does an organism know when it must produce a protein and in what amount? Michael Famulok and his team at the University of Bonn have now taken a meaningful step toward a better understanding of this process by successfully producing hairpin-shaped RNA molecules that are able to differentiate between riboswitches in the on and off states.

How does an organism know when it must produce a protein and in what amount? Clever control mechanisms are responsible for the regulation of protein biosynthesis. One such type of mechanism, discovered only a few years ago, is riboswitches, which function as a sort of “off” switch for the production of certain proteins. These could be a useful point of attack for novel antibiotics if it were possible to find drugs that bind to the switches of pathogens and “turn off” the biosynthesis of essential proteins in bacteria or fungi.

A team at the interdisciplinary Life and Medical Sciences Center at the University of Bonn has now taken a meaningful step toward a better understanding of riboswitches. Researchers led by Michael Famulok have successfully produced hairpin-shaped RNA molecules that are able to differentiate between riboswitches in the on and off states.

In order to produce a specific protein, a cell first generates a copy of the corresponding gene of the DNA. This blueprint containing the construction plans for the protein is called messenger RNA (mRNA). By using its ribosomes, the cell then reads the mRNA code and synthesizes the protein. Some proteins can activate a “switch” to halt their own synthesis once they are present in sufficient quantity. This is because the mRNA does not only contain the genetic code for the protein but can also contain segments with a switching function. The protein or a closely connected metabolite binds to this riboswitch and changes its spatial structure such that the mRNA segments controlling the protein production can no longer be read off. For example, when the metabolite thiamine pyrophosphate (TPP) binds to the thiM riboswitch of E. coli bacteria, an mRNA segment recognized by the ribosome as the starting point for “reading” the plan is covered up.

Michael Famulok and his team searched for a probe that can differentiate between off and on. Aptamers are known for their ability to differentiate between different states of proteins. Aptamers are short RNA strands that adopt a specific spatial structure and, like antibodies, selectively bind to specific target molecules. So, why not riboswitches? Over several steps starting from a “library”, a randomly generated large number of highly varied RNA sequences, the scientists selected two short hairpin-shaped aptamers that bind very strongly and specifically to the riboswitch in the “on” position. It turned out that the two hairpins bind to different locations: one to the TPP binding site and the other to a domain responsible for the change in structure of the riboswitch. Both hairpins are crowded when TPP molecules move the riboswitch to the “off” conformation.

Famulok and his team hope to use these aptamers to gain new insights into the function of riboswitches. This could help in the search for a completely new class of antimicrobial agents that block the bacterial thiM riboswitch just like TPP.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

John Wiley & Sons, Inc.. "Hairpins For Switches: Artificial RNA Ligands Differentiate Between On And Off States Of Riboswitches." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 December 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/12/061212213659.htm>.
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.. (2006, December 13). Hairpins For Switches: Artificial RNA Ligands Differentiate Between On And Off States Of Riboswitches. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/12/061212213659.htm
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.. "Hairpins For Switches: Artificial RNA Ligands Differentiate Between On And Off States Of Riboswitches." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/12/061212213659.htm (accessed July 26, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

AFP (July 25, 2014) Europe's highest train, the little train of Artouste in the French Pyrenees, celebrates its 80th birthday. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans

TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans

AP (July 24, 2014) TSA administrator, John Pistole's took part in the Aspen Security Forum 2014, where he answered questions on lifting of the ban on flights into Israel's Tel Aviv airport and whether politics played a role in lifting the ban. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

AP (July 24, 2014) Mobile phone companies and communities across the country are going to new lengths to disguise those unsightly cellphone towers. From a church bell tower to a flagpole, even a pencil, some towers are trying to make a point. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Algonquin Power Goes Activist on Its Target Gas Natural

Algonquin Power Goes Activist on Its Target Gas Natural

TheStreet (July 23, 2014) When The Deal's Amanda Levin exclusively reported that Gas Natural had been talking to potential suitors, the Ohio company responded with a flat denial, claiming its board had not talked to anyone about a possible sale. Lo and behold, Canadian utility Algonquin Power and Utilities not only had approached the company, but it did it three times. Its last offer was for $13 per share as Gas Natural's was trading at a 60-day moving average of about $12.50 per share. Now Algonquin, which has a 4.9% stake in Gas Natural, has taken its case to shareholders, calling on them to back its proposals or, possibly, a change in the target's board. Video provided by TheStreet
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