Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Carnegie Mellon U biologists identify critical player in yeast ribosome assembly

08.06.2004


Carnegie Mellon University biologists are the first to show that minor changes in the tail of one protein cripple yeast’s ability to assemble protein-making machines called ribosomes. The findings, published in a recent issue of Molecular Cell, ultimately could help scientists develop better drugs to fight fungal infections.



"Our findings are the first to link the structure of a ribosomal protein to a critical step in the pathway to assembling a fully functional ribosome," explained John Woolford, professor of biological sciences at the Mellon College of Science at Carnegie Mellon. "Understanding the molecular basis of ribosome assembly offers a rational scheme for designing drugs to interfere with that process."

A complex of protein and ribonucleic acid (RNA), ribosomes are present in vast quantities inside every cell. There, they translate genetic information into proteins that control many activities, including cell movement, metabolism, division and response to the environment. Because ribosomes are essential for protein production, problems with their assembly inevitably spell cell death.


Woolford found that changing the tail of a ribosomal protein called S14 prevented it from processing a chunk of RNA destined to become part of a mature ribosome. Drugs that target the tail of S14 would likely interfere with ribosome assembly, according to Woolford, who added that such agents would destroy an infectious fungus while leaving animal or plant cells unharmed.

Using processes known as transformation and gene disruption, Woolford’s group engineered the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, (common baker’s yeast) to contain two genes for S14. One normal, or wild-type, gene instructed production of a fully functional S14 protein, while a mutant gene coded for the production of an S14 with an altered tail. After growing the yeast under normal conditions, Woolford turned off the wild-type gene and observed the consequences when only the mutant gene worked. He found that a slightly altered tail structure prevented the S14 protein from "cutting" its target RNA molecule, thus halting ribosome assembly. Because it wasn’t processed, this typically short-lived RNA molecular intermediate accumulated within yeast cells, making it easy to isolate and study. Yeast engineered with mutations in genes for other proteins that direct ribosome assembly should yield even more intermediates for study, according to Woolford, whose research was supported by the National Institutes of Health and reported in the May 7 issue of Molecular Cell.

In collaboration with Martin Farach-Colton at Rutgers University, Woolford is currently developing computer models to outline the many proteins involved in ribosome assembly and the step-by-step process by which various parts come together to make a new ribosome. In addition, Woolford is carrying out genetic experiments to test their idea that certain non-ribosomal proteins that regulate ribosome assembly (called ribosomal assembly factors) also regulate cell proliferation.

"We think that specific ribosome assembly factors we discovered might have a second ’moonlighting’ job," said Woolford. "Thus, if such a protein functions in both ribosome assembly and growth regulation, cells could coordinate these two processes by ’talking’ to the same molecule in two places."

In this scenario, if a cell told a ribosome assembly factor to stop working, it would effectively shut down ribosome production and at the same time trigger cells to stop dividing. But if that factor failed to hear what the cell dictated, it would continue to build ribosomes and spur cell division that could lead to cancer, according to Woolford.

Lauren Ward | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.cmu.edu/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Multi-institutional collaboration uncovers how molecular machines assemble
02.12.2016 | Salk Institute

nachricht Fertilized egg cells trigger and monitor loss of sperm’s epigenetic memory
02.12.2016 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer ISE Develops Highly Compact, High Frequency DC/DC Converter for Aviation

The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses

02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product

02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?

02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>