RNA loops and knots guide genetic modifications
University of Connecticut Health Center scientist, Robert Reenan, has uncovered new rules of RNA recoding--a genetic editing method cells use to expand the number of proteins assembled from a single DNA code. According to his work, the shape a particular RNA adopts solely determines how editing enzymes modify the information molecule inside cells. The study may help explain the remarkable adaptability and evolution of animal nervous systems--including the human brain. The work appears in the March 17 issue of Nature.
DNA sequences spell out the instructions for making protein but they arent always followed to the letter. Sometimes, the genetic recipe gets edited after cells copy DNA to RNA--a close chemical relative--during transcription. Think of DNA as an unalterable "read only" copy of the genetic code and the RNA as a "writable" working copy that cells can edit extensively--adding, deleting, and modifying the molecular letters and words that guide protein assembly. Often, even simple editing such as changing one letter in an RNA molecule affects the resulting proteins function. There are many different types of RNA editing.
Nicole Mahoney | EurekAlert!
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