Funding to be provided for national program on "Chemical Biology of Native Nucleic Acid Modifications" coordinated by Mainz University
In recent years, it has become clear that the genetic code is far more complex than previously assumed. In addition to the well-known building blocks adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine, numerous chemical variations play an important role.
Scientists now assume that the newly discovered nucleic acid modifications may form a second layer of information that extends and complements the genetic code. "The new discoveries are rather like umlauts that extend the standard alphabet," explained Professor Mark Helm of the Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Biochemistry - Therapeutic Life Sciences at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU). Helm is the coordinator of the priority program "Chemical Biology of Native Nucleic Acid Modifications", which the German Research Foundation (DFG) has now agreed to fund.
This nationwide priority program will start in 2015 and, according to plans, will continue to receive DFG support for six years. "We are lucky enough in Germany to have some of the leading international researchers in all the core areas in this field and we thus intend to explore this subject with the help of a country-wide network," said Helm. Decoding the information in the modified DNA and RNA bases and nucleosides is a hot topic in chemical biology right now.
Before 2009, scientists were convinced that only the four Watson-Crick bases plus a fifth base called 5-methylcytosine code for the genetic information that is key to life. Then three additional DNA modifications were uncovered in quick succession, which are postulated to act as switches that regulate gene functions. The switch can be used to activate or deactivate a gene.
"We are looking at a completely new coding mechanism that had previously escaped our attention," Helm pointed out. On the other hand, scientists have long known that RNA, which is responsible for translating the genetic code into proteins, contains more than 150 different modified nucleosides. The purpose of these, however, is still largely unknown.
The new research network will closely examine the molecular details of the modifications in naturally occurring nucleic acids. This will involve, among other things, detecting and identifying modifications, localizing and quantifying them, and uncovering both their structure and function. In an initial period, an emphasis will be on methods from chemistry and structural biology, allowing to connect to scientists from the life sciences in joint projects. The German Research Foundation will issue a call for proposals in this innovative and interdisciplinary research program.
Professor Dr. Mark Helm
Medical / Pharmaceutical Chemistry
Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Biochemistry – Therapeutic Life Sciences
Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz
D 55099 Mainz, GERMANY
phone +49 6131 39-25731
fax +49 6131 39-20373
http://www.dfg.de/en/service/press/press_releases/2014/press_release_no_10/index... - DFG press release “16 New Priority Programmes”
http://www.uni-mainz.de/presse/17224_ENG_HTML.php - press release
Petra Giegerich | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Unidentified spectra detector
28.06.2016 | European Molecular Biology Laboratory - European Bioinformatics Institute
Freiburg Biologists Explain Function of Pentagone
28.06.2016 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
R2D2, a joint project to analyze and development high-TRL processes and technologies for manufacture of flexible organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has been successfully completed.
In contrast to point light sources like LEDs made of inorganic semiconductor crystals, organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) are light-emitting surfaces. Their...
High resolution rotational spectroscopy reveals an unprecedented number of conformations of an odorant molecule – a new world record!
In a recent publication in the journal Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, researchers from the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter...
Strands of cow cartilage substitute for ink in a 3D bioprinting process that may one day create cartilage patches for worn out joints, according to a team of engineers. "Our goal is to create tissue that can be used to replace large amounts of worn out tissue or design patches," said Ibrahim T. Ozbolat, associate professor of engineering science and mechanics. "Those who have osteoarthritis in their joints suffer a lot. We need a new alternative treatment for this."
Cartilage is a good tissue to target for scale-up bioprinting because it is made up of only one cell type and has no blood vessels within the tissue. It is...
Physicists in Innsbruck have realized the first quantum simulation of lattice gauge theories, building a bridge between high-energy theory and atomic physics. In the journal Nature, Rainer Blatt‘s and Peter Zoller’s research teams describe how they simulated the creation of elementary particle pairs out of the vacuum by using a quantum computer.
Elementary particles are the fundamental buildings blocks of matter, and their properties are described by the Standard Model of particle physics. The...
A year and a half on the outer wall of the International Space Station ISS in altitude of 400 kilometers is a real challenge. Whether a primordial bacterium...
28.06.2016 | Event News
09.06.2016 | Event News
24.05.2016 | Event News
28.06.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
28.06.2016 | Life Sciences
28.06.2016 | Physics and Astronomy