Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Transcription factors: function follows form

Date:
October 17, 2013
Source:
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Summary:
Transcription factors are responsible for transcribing the correct genes and therefore for producing the right quantity of proteins. They bind to specific sections of DNA near genes, such as promoters for example. However, the transcription factors do not function simply as an on/off switch but rather like a volume control, which allows gene expression to be precisely controlled.

DNA-induced structural changes (parts that change are coloured red) in the DNA binding domain of the glucocorticoid receptor (left) and the structural changes (red) that occur when an extra amino acid is inserted in the DNA binding domain of the glucocorticoid receptor as a consequence of alternative splicing (right).
Credit: MPI for Molecular Genetics/Meijsing

Clay can be used in various forms for a range of objects such as cups, plates or bricks. Similarly, proteins​​ can transform their structure and thus adapt their function and activity. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin have analysed proteins for such modifications that control gene activity, so-called transcription factors. The researchers thereby discovered that DNA changes the form and the activity of the glucocorticoid receptor, and also ascertained how various domains in the molecule communicate with one another. Furthermore, the way in which the protein domains are connected also changes as a result of the integration of individual amino acids in the protein chain. Different genes are therefore transcribed to varying degrees.

Transcription factors are responsible for transcribing the correct genes and therefore for producing the right quantity of proteins. They bind to specific sections of DNA near genes, such as promoters for example. However, the transcription factors do not function simply as an on/off switch but rather like a volume control, which allows gene expression to be precisely controlled.

The glucocorticoid receptor is a transcription factor, which, for example, is activated by the hormone cortisol during fasting, resulting in glucose production in the liver. Because of its anti-inflammatory effect, it also plays an important role in the treatment of illnesses caused by an overactive immune system, such as allergies, autoimmune diseases and asthma. Various signals determine its activity, two of which are: firstly, the DNA to which the glucocorticoid receptor binds in order to regulate the gene. The second signal is the integration of additional amino acids in the protein.

The Berlin-based Max Planck researchers have studied how these two signals have an effect, which genes are regulated by the glucocorticoid receptor and how they affect the strength of the regulation. "Our findings show that DNA is not simply a passive strip of Velcro which can be bound by proteins. Instead, DNA changes the shape of the proteins and thereby the communication between various protein domains," explains Sebastiaan H. Meijsing from the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics. In this way, the glucocorticoid receptor can adapt its activity to individual genes.

Furthermore, different variants of the glucocorticoid receptor exist. They occur when the original RNA chain, produced when the glucocorticoid receptor gene is transcribed, is subsequently modified again. During this process, known as alternative splicing, additional modules can be added to the amino acid chain in the protein. The modification changes the way in which different sections of the glucocorticoid receptor are connected to one another. As a result, different genes can be transcribed to varying degrees. "Transcription factors are like chameleons in the way they can change their appearance. It allows them to respond to different signals and regulate genes with particular precision," says Meijsing.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Morgane Thomas-Chollier, Lisa C. Watson, Samantha B. Cooper, Miles A. Pufall, Jennifer S. Liu, Katja Borzym, Martin Vingron, Keith R. Yamamoto, Sebastiaan H. Meijsing. A naturally occuring insertion of a single amino acid rewires trancriptional regulation by glucocorticoid receptor isoforms. PNAS, October 2013

Cite This Page:

Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. "Transcription factors: function follows form." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131017080346.htm>.
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. (2013, October 17). Transcription factors: function follows form. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131017080346.htm
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. "Transcription factors: function follows form." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131017080346.htm (accessed August 30, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) State health officials say testing has confirmed the presence of a killer amoeba in a water system serving three St. John the Baptist Parish towns. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Australian Sheep Gets Long Overdue Haircut

Raw: Australian Sheep Gets Long Overdue Haircut

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) Hoping to break the record for world's wooliest, Shaun the sheep came up 10 pounds shy with his fleece weighing over 50 pounds after being shorn for the first time in years. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Minds Blown: Scientists Develop Fish That Walk On Land

Minds Blown: Scientists Develop Fish That Walk On Land

Newsy (Aug. 28, 2014) Canadian scientists looking into the very first land animals took a fish out of water and forced it to walk. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Huge Ancient Wine Cellar Found In Israel

Huge Ancient Wine Cellar Found In Israel

Newsy (Aug. 28, 2014) An international team uncovered a large ancient wine celler that likely belonged to a Cannonite ruler. 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