A team of scientists from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Weizmann Institute of Science has revealed the structure of a cellular editor that “cuts and pastes” the first draft of RNA straight after it is formed from its DNA template. Many diseases appear to be tied to mistakes in this process, and understanding the workings of the machinery involved may lead to the ability to correct or prevent them in the future.
Since the discovery, around 25 years ago, that the bits of DNA in the genes that code for protein formation are interspersed with “filler” segments that have no known function, scientists have worked to understand the process by which the right sequences are lifted out and strung together to make a coherent set of instructions. This act, referred to as “RNA splicing,” takes place in the “spliceosome” situated in the cell nucleus. A large complex of proteins and short strands of RNA, the spliceosome distinguishes the beginnings and ends of coded segments, precisely cutting and stitching them together. Alternative splicing, which underlies the huge diversity of proteins in the body by allowing segments of the genetic code to be strung together in different ways, takes place in the spliceosome as well.
The team consisted of husband-and-wife scientists Prof Ruth Sperling of the Genetics Department of the Hebrew University and Prof Joseph Sperling of the Organic Chemistry Department of the Weizmann Institute; Ruth’s graduate student Maia Azubel; and Sharon Wolf of the Chemical Research Support Department at the Weizmann Institute. They produced the most detailed 3-D representation of the spliceosome’s structure to date with their study, published in the current edition of the journal Molecular Cell. Rather than follow previous attempts to unravel the workings of the splicing mechanism by studying spliceosomes created in test tubes, they managed to take spliceosomes directly from living cells and examine them under an electron microscope.
Jerry Barach | alfa
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In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
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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.
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07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine
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07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine