Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Argonautes: A big turn-off for proteins

02.02.2010
Johns Hopkins scientists believe they may have figured out how genetic snippets called microRNAs are able to shut down the production of some proteins.

The issue, they say, is important because the more scientists know about how genes — the blueprints for proteins — are regulated, the more likely they are to figure out how to use that information in treating or preventing diseases linked to such regulation, including cancer.

In both computer and test-tube studies using fruit-fly protein, the Johns Hopkins researchers intensively studied a fairly large protein called Argonaute because it is known to bind to microRNA and ultimately shut down protein production.

"The question was how it did it," says Rachel Green, Ph.D., a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and professor of molecular biology and genetics in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Previous studies have been inconclusive about the mechanism by which microRNAs bound to Argonautes prevent the production of protein from a given gene.

In this study, the team discovered that when an Argonaute binds to a microRNA, it then binds more tightly to a messenger RNA thereby sequestering the message from the translation machine known as the ribosome where protein production happens.

Their research appeared in January in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology.

The team set out to characterize Argonautes first using computers to compare their shapes and structures with other proteins. They found striking similarities between Argonaute structures and proteins that happened to exhibit a particular kind of "cooperative binding" known as allostery.

Allostery is a condition in which the binding of one molecule stimulates the binding of a second.

By chopping up Argonaute proteins from fruit flies and testing each piece individually, the team showed that allostery stimulated tenfold the binding of the Argonaute and miRNA complex to messenger RNA.

The scientists speculate that as a result of being bound, the messenger RNA was prevented from doing its job of delivering a gene's instructions to the ribosome that translates them and manufactures proteins. These studies provide new insights into Argonaute protein function, motivating the next series of questions in the field.

"MicroRNAs are all the rage," Green says. "Suddenly, in the last 10 years, there's this whole set of genes and cellular components that we had no idea existed, and they're ubiquitous. They play roles in all manner of development, and Argonautes are the main class of protein involved in regulating them."

The research was supported by funding from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

In addition to Green, Sergej Djuranovic, Michelle Kim Zinchenko, Junho K. Hur, Ali Nahvi, Julie L. Brunelle, and Elizabeth J. Rogers, all of Johns Hopkins, were authors of the paper.

On the Web:

http://www.mbg.jhmi.edu/people/profile.asp?PersonID=366
http://www.hhmi.org/research/investigators/greenr_bio.html
http://www.nature.com/nsmb/index.html

Maryalice Yakutchik | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.jhmi.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Symbiotic bacteria: from hitchhiker to beetle bodyguard
28.04.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

nachricht Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis
28.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Grenzflächen- und Bioverfahrenstechnik IGB

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>