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New tools reveal how genes work and cells organize

Date:
April 3, 2024
Source:
Aarhus University
Summary:
Researchers have discovered how certain proteins can attach to special structures in RNA, called G-quadruplexes. Additionally, they have developed computational tools capable of predicting these protein-RNA interactions. The newfound ability to predict these interactions can help future work in understanding molecular pathways in the cell and pave the way for developing drugs targeting these RNA G-quadruplex binding proteins, that are found to be involved in disease such as cancer.
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Researchers from Aarhus University and the Italian Institute of Technology have discovered how certain proteins can attach to special structures in RNA, called G-quadruplexes. Additionally, they have developed computational tools capable of predicting these protein-RNA interactions. The newfound ability to predict these interactions can help future work in understanding molecular pathways in the cell and pave the way for developing drugs targeting these RNA G-quadruplex binding proteins, that are found to be involved in disease such as cancer.

Proteins binding to RNA are important in many processes in the cell and can mediate a range of biological functions. A specialized structure in both DNA and RNA, the G-quadruplex, are regulatory elements involved in gene expression in both DNA and RNA. In the present work the researchers use theoretical predictions and molecular biology experiments to show that many chromatin-binding proteins bind to RNA G-quadruplexes. With this information they can classify proteins based on their potential to bind RNA G-quadruplexes.

The study uses a combination of experimental identification of RNA G-quadruplex-binding proteins and computational methods to build a prediction tool that identify the probability that a protein binds to RNA G-quadruplexes. The findings show that predicted proteins show a high degree of protein disorder and hydrophilicity, suggesting an involvement in both transcription and phase-separation into membrane-less organelles.

Ulf Ørom's group has previously shown that RNA-DNA dual binding proteins are likely to have an involvement in the DNA damage response, linking DNA and RNA binding properties to a number of proteins. In the new study, the researchers expanded the knowledge of RNA-binding proteins to identify RNA G-quadruplex binding proteins.

The researchers have also developed a computational tool to assess RNA G-quadruplex-binding potential of proteins that can be accessed at http://service.tartaglialab.com/new_submission/clever_G4_classifier.

With these new results, the researchers identify properties of protein-RNA interactions, and provide means to identify G-quadruplex binding properties that can potentially be targeted therapeutically in disease.

The findings have just been published in Nature Communications.


Story Source:

Materials provided by Aarhus University. Original written by Lisbeth Heilesen. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Johanna Luige, Alexandros Armaos, Gian Gaetano Tartaglia, Ulf Andersson Vang Ørom. Predicting nuclear G-quadruplex RNA-binding proteins with roles in transcription and phase separation. Nature Communications, 2024; 15 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-024-46731-9

Cite This Page:

Aarhus University. "New tools reveal how genes work and cells organize." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 April 2024. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2024/04/240403171042.htm>.
Aarhus University. (2024, April 3). New tools reveal how genes work and cells organize. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 28, 2024 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2024/04/240403171042.htm
Aarhus University. "New tools reveal how genes work and cells organize." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2024/04/240403171042.htm (accessed May 28, 2024).

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