Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

When it comes to genetic code, researchers prove optimum isn't always best

Date:
February 19, 2013
Source:
Texas A&M University
Summary:
Imagine two steel springs identical in look and composition but that perform differently because each was tempered at a different rate. Molecular biologists have shown that concept -- that the speed of creation affects performance -- applies to how a protein they studied impacts an organism's circadian clock function.

Neurospora crassa samples growing in the laboratory of Dr. Deborah Bell-Pedersen, a fellow fungal microbiologist and circadian rhythms expert within Texas A&M's Center for Biological Clocks Research. The bands in the tubes indicate the daily rhythm of spore formation in the fungus.
Credit: Image courtesy of Texas A&M University

Imagine two steel springs identical in look and composition but that perform differently because each was tempered at a different rate.

A team of researchers including a Texas A&M University molecular biologist has shown that concept -- that the speed of creation affects performance -- applies to how a protein they studied impacts an organism's circadian clock function. This discovery provides new insights into the significance of the genetic code for controlling the rates at which critically important proteins are synthesized, and could lead to better understanding of cancers and other diseases.

"Living organisms' inner clocks are like Swiss watches with precisely manufactured spring mechanisms," said Matthew Sachs, a professor in the Texas A&M Department of Biology. "For example, if you fast-temper a critical spring, the watch may be unable to keep time, as opposed to slow-tempering it. It's not just about the composition of the components, such as which alloy is used. It's about the manner in which the components are made. Our research says the genetic code is important for determining both composition and fabrication rate for a central component of the circadian clock, and that the fabrication rate also is critical. And that's essentially a discovery."

The research was selected for Advanced Online Publication (AOP) in the journal Nature.

The team, which is led by Yi Liu, a researcher in the Department of Physiology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, was perplexed when it found a paradoxical result years ago: that optimizing the use of codons (a sequence of three nucleotides that form a unit of genetic code in a DNA or RNA molecule) specifying an essential biological clock component actually abolished the organism's circadian rhythms.

The group's research indicates that the protein in the fungal genus Neurospora they studied, frequency, performs better when the genetic code specifying it has non-optimal codon usage, as is normally found. However, when the genetic code is deliberately altered so that codon usage is optimized, clock function is lost. The reason for this is that non-optimal codon usage slows translation of the genetic code into protein, allotting the frequency protein the necessary time to achieve its optimal protein structure. The team's results also demonstrate that genetic codons do more than simply determine the amino acid sequence of a protein as previously thought: They also affect how much protein can be made as well as the functional quality of that protein.

"We found that less is more, in many cases," Liu said.

Because many genetic diseases are the result of improperly functioning proteins, Sachs says knowledge about how proteins are made and why they have impaired functions is critical to understanding almost all diseases.

"Understanding gene expression is crucial for understanding cancer and other diseases, because ultimately many of these processes involve either mutations of genes or altered expression of genes," said Sachs, who was asked by Liu to help on the research because of his translational expertise in Neurospora.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Mian Zhou, Jinhu Guo, Joonseok Cha, Michael Chae, She Chen, Jose M. Barral, Matthew S. Sachs, Yi Liu. Non-optimal codon usage affects expression, structure and function of clock protein FRQ. Nature, 2013; DOI: 10.1038/nature11833

Cite This Page:

Texas A&M University. "When it comes to genetic code, researchers prove optimum isn't always best." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 February 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130219121457.htm>.
Texas A&M University. (2013, February 19). When it comes to genetic code, researchers prove optimum isn't always best. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130219121457.htm
Texas A&M University. "When it comes to genetic code, researchers prove optimum isn't always best." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130219121457.htm (accessed August 1, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Friday, August 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Pyrenees Orphan Bear Cub Gets Brand New Home

Pyrenees Orphan Bear Cub Gets Brand New Home

AFP (Aug. 1, 2014) The discovery of a bear cub in the Pyrenees mountains made headlines in April 2014. Despire several attempts to find the animal's mother, the cub remained alone. Now, the Pyrenees Conservation Foundation has constructed an enclosure. Duration: 00:31 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Vaccine Might Be Coming, But Where's It Been?

Ebola Vaccine Might Be Coming, But Where's It Been?

Newsy (Aug. 1, 2014) Health officials are working to fast-track a vaccine — the West-African Ebola outbreak has killed more than 700. But why didn't we already have one? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Study Links Certain Birth Control Pills To Breast Cancer

Study Links Certain Birth Control Pills To Breast Cancer

Newsy (Aug. 1, 2014) Previous studies have made the link between birth control and breast cancer, but the latest makes the link to high-estrogen oral contraceptives. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rare Whale Fossil Pulled from Calif. Backyard

Rare Whale Fossil Pulled from Calif. Backyard

AP (Aug. 1, 2014) A rare whale fossil has been pulled from a Southern California backyard. The 16- to 17-million-year-old baleen whale fossil is one of about 20 baleen whale fossils known to exist. (Aug. 1) 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