Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

RNA unpackages the genome and makes it accessible for gene expression

02.10.2012
Our genome is densely packaged in the cell nucleus to protect the fragile DNA molecule and to control its activity. Scientists from the Universities in Regensburg and Munich discovered a novel RNA dependent pathway that unpackages the genome and makes it accessible for gene expression.

The genome encoding for all information to build an entire organism is made of DNA. This molecule is a very thin thread of about 2 m in length. The DNA has to fit into a cell nucleus with a diameter that is 100.000 times smaller than the length of the DNA. In order to stow and to protect the fragile DNA molecule inside, it is wrapped around molecular spools consisting of proteins.


Microscopic picture displaying the distribution of DNA and RNA in human cells: Cellular DNA (blue) and RNA (green) were stained with specific dyes and visualized by fluorescence microscopy. In control cells containing RNA, the DNA is distributed homogenously within the cell nucleus. After specific RNA depletion (lower panel) the DNA aggregates into compact and inactive higher order structures of chromatin.

Image: University of Regensburg

About 30 millions of such spools, arranged like pearls on a string, are required to package the DNA molecule. The pearls on a string undergo further coiling and compacting to safely store DNA that is called chromatin in its packaged form. However, for cell function and daily use the DNA information of specific genomic regions have to be rendered accessible. Therefore active mechanisms must have evolved to unpackage the genome and allow the readout of the underlying genetic information.

Researchers belonging to the groups of the biochemist Gernot Längst from the University of Regensburg and Axel Imhof, a molecular biologist at the LMU in Munich, could now show that small RNA molecules regulate the accessibility and structure of the DNA in chromatin. They identified and characterized snoRNAs (a specific class of RNA molecules) as key regulators of chromatin organisation. In combination with an RNA and chromatin binding protein (the adapterprotein Df31) the RNA binds to specific regions of the genome. This complex interferes with the regular packaging of chromatin and locally decondenses this structure, thereby allowing the readout of the genetic information.

The results were published in „Molecular Cell“ ((DOI:10.1016/j.molcel.2012.08.021).
http://www.cell.com/molecular-cell/abstract/S1097-2765%2812%2900739-3?switch=standard

Press Contact:
Prof. Dr. Gernot Längst
University of Regensburg
Biochemistry III
phone +49 941 943-2849
gernot.laengst@vkl.uni-regensburg.de

Alexander Schlaak | idw
Further information:
http://www.uni-regensburg.de

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht More genes are active in high-performance maize
19.01.2018 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

nachricht How plants see light
19.01.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Artificial agent designs quantum experiments

On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.

We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.

Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Let the good tubes roll

19.01.2018 | Materials Sciences

How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism

19.01.2018 | Health and Medicine

Meteoritic stardust unlocks timing of supernova dust formation

19.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>