Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Hairpins for Switches

11.12.2006
Artificial RNA ligands differentiate between on and off states of riboswitches

How does an organism know when it must produce a protein and in what amount? Clever control mechanisms are responsible for the regulation of protein biosynthesis. One such type of mechanism, discovered only a few years ago, is riboswitches, which function as a sort of “off” switch for the production of certain proteins.

These could be a useful point of attack for novel antibiotics if it were possible to find drugs that bind to the switches of pathogens and “turn off” the biosynthesis of essential proteins in bacteria or fungi. A team at the interdisciplinary Life and Medical Sciences Center at the University of Bonn has now taken a meaningful step toward a better understanding of riboswitches. Researchers led by Michael Famulok have successfully produced hairpin-shaped RNA molecules that are able to differentiate between riboswitches in the on and off states.

In order to produce a specific protein, a cell first generates a copy of the corresponding gene of the DNA. This blueprint containing the construction plans for the protein is called messenger RNA (mRNA). By using its ribosomes, the cell then reads the mRNA code and synthesizes the protein. Some proteins can activate a “switch” to halt their own synthesis once they are present in sufficient quantity. This is because the mRNA does not only contain the genetic code for the protein but can also contain segments with a switching function. The protein or a closely connected metabolite binds to this riboswitch and changes its spatial structure such that the mRNA segments controlling the protein production can no longer be read off. For example, when the metabolite thiamine pyrophosphate (TPP) binds to the thiM riboswitch of E. coli bacteria, an mRNA segment recognized by the ribosome as the starting point for “reading” the plan is covered up.

... more about:
»RNA »TPP »mRNA »riboswitch

Michael Famulok and his team searched for a probe that can differentiate between off and on. Aptamers are known for their ability to differentiate between different states of proteins. Aptamers are short RNA strands that adopt a specific spatial structure and, like antibodies, selectively bind to specific target molecules. So, why not riboswitches? Over several steps starting from a “library”, a randomly generated large number of highly varied RNA sequences, the scientists selected two short hairpin-shaped aptamers that bind very strongly and specifically to the riboswitch in the “on” position. It turned out that the two hairpins bind to different locations: one to the TPP binding site and the other to a domain responsible for the change in structure of the riboswitch. Both hairpins are crowded when TPP molecules move the riboswitch to the “off” conformation.

Famulok and his team hope to use these aptamers to gain new insights into the function of riboswitches. This could help in the search for a completely new class of antimicrobial agents that block the bacterial thiM riboswitch just like TPP.

Author: Michael Famulok, Universität Bonn (Germany), http://famulok.chemie.uni-bonn.de/members/group.html

Title: RNA Ligands That Distinguish Metabolite-Induced Conformations in the TPP Riboswitch

Angewandte Chemie International Edition, doi: 10.1002/anie.200603166

Michael Famulok | Angewandte Chemie
Further information:
http://pressroom.angewandte.org
http://famulok.chemie.uni-bonn.de/members/group.html

Further reports about: RNA TPP mRNA riboswitch

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Newly designed molecule binds nitrogen
23.02.2018 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht Atomic Design by Water
23.02.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung 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: Good vibrations feel the force

A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.

By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Newly designed molecule binds nitrogen

23.02.2018 | Life Sciences

Stagnation in the South Pacific Explains Natural CO2 Fluctuations

23.02.2018 | Earth Sciences

Mat4Rail: EU Research Project on the Railway of the Future

23.02.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>