Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New Piece Found in the Puzzle of Epigenetics

18.06.2009
Researchers of Helmholtz Zentrum München elucidate mechanism of the fine regulation of RNA synthesis

A team of scientists led by Professor Dirk Eick of Helmholtz Zentrum München has identified the enzyme TFIIH kinase as an important factor in the epigenetic regulation of the cell nucleus enzyme RNA polymerase II. The findings, recently published in the renowned journal Molecular Cell, constitute a further building block for understanding the pathomechanisms of cancer and other diseases.

For many years scientists have known that the numerous biological functions of an organism are not regulated solely by the DNA sequence of its genes: Superordinate regulatory mechanisms exist that contribute to determining the fate of genes. Although they are not anchored in the DNA, they can even be passed on to subsequent generations to a certain extent. Intensive research in recent years has shown that these mechanisms – bundled under the term epigenetics, are very multifaceted and complex.

Professor Dirk Eick and staff members of the Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology and Tumor Genetics of Helmholtz Zentrum München, together with colleagues from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Wisconsin, USA, have now identified another piece in the puzzle of epigenetics: They showed that the enzyme TFIIH kinase is involved in epigenetic regulation.

The scientists were interested in the fine regulation of the cell nucleus enzyme RNA polymerase II. This transcribes the genetic information of the genetic substance DNA into messenger RNA - mRNA for short – which in turn is the basis for protein synthesis. At the same time RNA polymerase II is also responsible for the production of other kinds of RNA molecules, the so-called snRNA, which are not translated into proteins but take on other tasks. In prior research Eick and his colleagues had observed that a certain region of the RNA polymerase II enzyme – the carboxy-terminal domain – is involved in deciding which kinds of RNA are formed. In humans this domain consists of 52 repeats of a sequence of seven amino acids. For RNA synthesis the determining factor is whether and how specific amino acids of this region are modified biochemically. Thus, it is absolutely essential for the synthesis of snRNA that the amino acid serine at position 7 of this repeat sequence is provided with an additional phosphate group. If this is lacking, mRNA will be produced, but not any snRNA. The reason for that is presumably that this phosphorylation enables the interaction with a protein complex – the so-called integrator complex – which is necessary for snRNA formation. In other words, the modification of the enzyme RNA polymerase II at defined positions regulates whether this enzyme can produce certain kinds of RNA molecules or not.

In their latest research, the scientists led by Dirk Eick showed that the enzyme TFIIH kinase is responsible for the selective phosphorylation of RNA polymerase II. “With these findings another building block has been identified that plays a key role in epigenetic regulation by means of RNA polymerase II,” Professor Eick said. “This is of great significance because knowledge of epigenetic mechanisms is necessary in order to better understand cancer and other diseases and to be able to provide more targeted treatment.”

Original publication:

Md. Sohail Akhtar, Martin Heidemann, Joshua R. Tietjen, David W. Zhang, Rob D. Chapman, Dirk Eick, Aseem Z. Ansari (2009): TFIIH Kinase Places Bivalent Marks on the Carboxy-Terminal Domain of RNA Polymerase II. Molecular Cell 34, 387–393 (Online-Publikation:I DOI 10.1016/j.molcel.2009.04.016)

The Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology and Tumor Genetics of Helmholtz Zentrum München focuses on genetic alterations in the cell that arise during malignant transformation and are causally related to the development into a tumor cell. Besides gaining new insights for basic research, the main aim is to make advances in the therapy of malignant diseases and to develop vectors for gene therapy.

Helmholtz Zentrum München is the German Research Center for Environmental Health. As leading center oriented toward Environmental Health, it focuses on chronic and complex diseases which develop from the interaction of environmental factors and individual genetic disposition. Helmholtz Zentrum München has around 1680 staff members. The head office of the center is located in Neuherberg to the north of Munich on a 50-hectare research campus. Helmholtz Zentrum München belongs to the Helmholtz Association, Germany’s largest research organization, a community of 15 scientific-technical and medical-biological research centers with a total of 26,500 staff members.

Sven Winkler | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.helmholtz-muenchen.de

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Cancer diagnosis: no more needles?
25.05.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

nachricht Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found
25.05.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Alternsforschung - Fritz-Lipmann-Institut e.V. (FLI)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Powerful IT security for the car of the future – research alliance develops new approaches

The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.

Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...

Im Focus: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.

The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Flow probes from the 3D printer

25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering

Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found

25.05.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>