The research adds an important link to discoveries that have enabled scientists to gain a deeper understanding of how cells translate genetic information into the proteins and processes of life. The findings, published in the July 3 advance online issue of the journal Nature, were reported by a research team led by Yuichiro Takagi, Ph.D., assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Indiana University School of Medicine.
The fundamental operations of all cells are controlled by the genetic information – the genes –stored in each cell's DNA, a long double-stranded chain. Information copied from sections of the DNA – through a process called transcription – leads to synthesis of messenger RNA, eventually enabling the production of proteins necessary for cellular function. Transcription is undertaken by the enzyme called RNA polymerase II.
As cellular operations proceed, signals are sent to the DNA asking that some genes be activated and others be shut down. The Mediator transcription regulator accepts and interprets those instructions, telling RNA polymerase II where and when to begin the transcription process.
Mediator is a gigantic molecular machine composed of 25 proteins organized into three modules known as the head, the middle, and the tail. Using X-ray crystallography, the Takagi team was able to describe in detail the structure of the Mediator Head module, the most important for interactions with RNA polymerase II.
"It's turned out to be extremely novel, revealing how a molecular machine is built from multiple proteins," said Takagi.
"As a molecular machine, the Mediator head module needs to have elements of both stability and flexibility in order to accommodate numerous interactions. A portion of the head we named the neck domain provides the stability by arranging the five proteins in a polymer-like structure," he said.
"We call it the alpha helical bundle," said Dr. Takagi. "People have seen structures of alpha helical bundles before but not coming from five different proteins."
"This is a completely noble structure," he said.
One immediate benefit of the research will be to provide detailed mapping of previously known mutations that affect the regulation of the transcription process, he said.
The ability to solve such complex structures will be important because multi-protein complexes such as Mediator will most likely become a new generation of drug targets for treatment of disease, he said.
Previously, the structure of RNA polymerase II was determined by Roger Kornberg of Stanford University, with whom Dr. Takagi worked prior to coming to IU School of Medicine. Kornberg received the Nobel Prize in 2006 for his discoveries. The researchers who described the structure of the ribosome, the protein production machine, were awarded the Nobel Prize in 2009. The structure of the entire Mediator has yet to be described, and thus remains the one of grand challenges in structure biology. Dr. Takagi's work on the Mediator head module structure represents a major step towards a structure determination of the entire Mediator.
In addition to Dr. Takagi as a senior author, the lead author for the Nature paper was Tsuyoshi Imasaki, Ph.D., of the IU School of Medicine. Other collaborators included researchers at The Scripps Research Institute, Stanford University, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory.
Funding for the research was supplied by grants from the National Science Foundation, the American Heart Association, Human Frontier Science Program, the National Institutes of Health, the National Cancer Institute and the European Commission.
Eric Schoch | EurekAlert!
New risk factors for anxiety disorders
24.02.2017 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg
Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers
24.02.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...
The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.
The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...
Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...
Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".
Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...
13.02.2017 | Event News
10.02.2017 | Event News
09.02.2017 | Event News
24.02.2017 | Life Sciences
24.02.2017 | Life Sciences
24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News