Research on one of the most important molecular "machines" in living cells is giving scientists clues to the development of new antibiotics and revealing secrets about how cells use the genetic information encoded in DNA, according to an article scheduled for the Feb. 19 issue of Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), ACS' weekly newsmagazine.
In the article, C&EN senior correspondent Stuart A. Borman explains that ribosomes translate DNA's message, encoded on messenger RNA (mRNA), and use it to synthesize thousands of different proteins that do most of the work in biology.
A ribosome can translate a limitless number of different mRNAs into proteins, just as a DVD player can translate the digital data on countless plastic discs into movies. Many cells contain hundreds of thousands of these protein factories, and some contain millions.
Borman describes fast-paced global research, which in barely a decade has transformed ribosomes from mystery structures into well-known entities that are targets for new drug development. Many antibiotics, for instance, work by interfering with the activity of ribosomes in bacteria. Ribosome research could help lead scientists to new types of antibiotics and there is at least one startup company focusing specifically on that topic, the article notes.
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