Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Visualizing the machinery of mRNA splicing

Date:
April 8, 2008
Source:
Yale University
Summary:
Recent research at Yale provided a glimpse of the ancient mechanism that helped diversify our genomes; it illuminated a relationship between gene processing in humans and the most primitive organisms by creating the first crystal structure of a crucial self-splicing region of RNA.

Ribbon reconstruction view of the crystal structure of an RNA group II intron -- red domain is the active site.
Credit: Pyle / Yale

Recent research at Yale provided a glimpse of the ancient mechanism that helped diversify our genomes; it illuminated a relationship between gene processing in humans and the most primitive organisms by creating the first crystal structure of a crucial self-splicing region of RNA.

Genes of higher organisms code for production of proteins through intermediary RNA molecules. But, after transcription from the DNA, these RNAs must be cut into pieces and patched together before they are ready for translation into protein. Stretches of the RNA sequence that code for protein are kept, and the intervening sequences, or introns, are spliced out of the transcript.

This work, published in Science, highlights a 16-year quest by Anna Marie Pyle, the William Edward Gilbert Professor of Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry at Yale, and her research team into the nature of "group II" introns, a particular type of intron within gene transcripts that catalyzes its own removal during the maturation of RNA.

Group II introns are found throughout nature, in all forms of living organisms. Although much has been learned about their structure and how they work through biochemical and computational analysis, until now there have been no high-resolution crystal structures available. The resulting images have provided both confirmation of the earlier work and new information on the three-dimensional structure of RNA and the mechanism of splicing.

"One of the most exciting aspects of this work was that we did not need to do anything disruptive to these molecules to prepare them for structural analysis," said Pyle. "The molecules showed us their structure, their active site and their activity -- all in a natural state. We were even able to visualize their associated ions."

According to Pyle, the crystal structure revealed some unexpected features -- showing two sections that were most implicated as key elements of the active site and strengthening a theory that the process of splicing in humans "shares a close evolutionary heritage" with ancient forms of bacteria.

Looking to future applications of the work, Pyle said, "Group II introns hold promise in the future as agents of gene therapy. A free intron is an infectious element that is special because it targets DNA sites very specifically. We hope that further knowledge of these structures may lead to the development of new genetic tools and therapeutics."

Other authors on the paper are Navtej Toor, Kevin S. Keating and Sean D. Taylor at Yale. Professor Pyle is also an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Funding for the research was from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense and the National Science Foundation.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Navtej Toor, Kevin S. Keating, Sean D. Taylor, Anna Marie Pyle. Crystal Structure of a Self-Spliced Group II Intron. Science, 2008; 320 (5872): 77-82 DOI: 10.1126/science.1153803

Cite This Page:

Yale University. "Visualizing the machinery of mRNA splicing." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 April 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080404181914.htm>.
Yale University. (2008, April 8). Visualizing the machinery of mRNA splicing. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080404181914.htm
Yale University. "Visualizing the machinery of mRNA splicing." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080404181914.htm (accessed April 24, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US

Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) A disease that has killed more than six million cave-dwelling bats in the United States is on the move and wildlife biologists are worried. White Nose Syndrome, discovered in New York in 2006, has now spread to 25 states. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
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

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