In fact, colinearity of DNA and protein sequences is thought to be a fundamental feature of the universal genetic code. However, a paper published today in Science by a team from the Brussels Branch of the global Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research (LICR) and the Seattle-based Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (FHCRC), shows that a protein can be rearranged so that it is no longer colinear with its encoding DNA.
Genes have stretches of (protein) coding DNA sequences interspersed with stretches of non-coding DNA sequences. The first step in making the protein is the faithful transcription of the entire gene’s sequence into an RNA sequence. The RNA is then ‘spliced’ such that the non-coding sequences are removed and the coding sequences are assembled in a linear fashion to form the template for translation from RNA to protein.
“Until now it was thought that colinearity of DNA and protein sequences was only interrupted by RNA splicing,” says LICR's Dr. Benoit Van den Eynde, the study's senior author. "This new study shows that protein splicing also occurs, and may even result in protein fragments, or peptides, being spliced together in the order opposite to that which occurs in the parental protein.” According to Dr. Van den Eynde, this novel phenomenon occurs during the physiological function of ‘antigen processing,’ which produces antigenic peptides; the ‘red flags’ that mark cells for destruction by the immune system.
The immune system attacks ‘foreign’ cells - be they tumor cells, virally infected, or donated by another person - when T lymphocytes recognize antigenic peptides displayed on the cell surface. The antigens are created by ‘proteasomes,’ components of the cell machinery that cut foreign proteins into peptides that are then displayed on the cell surface for recognition and destruction by CD8+ T lymphocytes. However, the Belgium/USA team has found that proteasomes can also splice the peptide fragments together in a reverse order to that encoded by the protein’s DNA sequence template. This takes the possible number of antigens from any one protein into potentially thousands of sequence configurations.
The sequence of the first human cancer-specific antigen, which was identified at the LICR Brussels Branch, has allowed the development of antigen-specific cancer vaccines that are in clinical trials around the world. This study describes a mechanism that significantly extends the number of antigenic peptides that can be produced from a single protein, and therefore widens the applicability of peptide vaccines against cancer and infectious diseases.
Sarah White | alfa
Hunting pathogens at full force
22.03.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung
A 155 carat diamond with 92 mm diameter
22.03.2017 | Universität Augsburg
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
22.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
22.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
22.03.2017 | Materials Sciences