Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Small Molecules Mimic Natural Gene Regulators

05.06.2009
In the quest for new approaches to treating and preventing disease, one appealing route involves turning genes on or off at will, directly intervening in ailments such as cancer and diabetes, which result when genes fail to turn on and off as they should.

Scientists at the University of Michigan and the University of California at Berkeley have taken a step forward on that route by developing small molecules that mimic the behavior and function of a much larger and more complicated natural regulator of gene expression. The research, by associate professor of chemistry Anna Mapp and coworkers, is described in the current issue of the journal ACS Chemical Biology.

Molecules that can prompt genes to be active are called transcriptional activators because they influence transcription---the first step in the process through which instructions coded in genes are used to produce proteins. Transcriptional activators occur naturally in cells, but Mapp and other researchers have been working to develop artificial transcription factors (ATFs)---non-natural molecules programmed to perform the same function as their natural counterparts. These molecules can help scientists probe the transcription process and perhaps eventually be used to correct diseases that result from errors in gene regulation.

In previous work, Mapp and coworkers showed that an ATF they developed was able to turn on genes in living cells, but they weren't sure it was using the same mechanism that natural activators use. Both natural transcriptional activators and their artificial counterparts typically have two essential parts: a DNA-binding domain that homes in on the specific gene to be regulated, and an activation domain that attaches itself to the cell's machinery through a key protein-to-protein interaction and spurs the gene into action. The researchers wanted to know whether their ATFs attached to the same sites in the transcriptional machinery that natural activators did.

In the current work, the team showed that their ATFs bind to a protein called CBP, which interacts with many natural activators, and that the specific site where their ATFs bind is the same site utilized by the natural activators, even though the natural activators are much larger and more complex.

Then the researchers altered their ATFs in various ways and looked to see how those changes affected both binding and ability to function as transcriptional activators. Any change that prevented an ATF from binding to CBP also prevented it from doing its job. This suggests that, for ATFs as for natural activators, interaction with CBP is key to transcriptional activity.

"Taken together, the evidence suggests that the small molecules we have developed mimic both the function and the mechanism of their natural counterparts," said Mapp, who has a joint appointment in the College of Pharmacy's Department of Medicinal Chemistry. Next the researchers want to understand in more detail exactly how the small molecules bind to that site. "Then we'll use that information to design better molecules."

In addition to Mapp, the study's authors are former graduate students Sara Buhrlage, Brian Brennan, Aaron Minter and Chinmay Majmudar, graduate student Caleb Bates, postdoctoral fellow Steven Rowe, associate professor of chemistry and biophysics Hashim Al-Hashimi, and David Wemmer of the University of California, Berkeley.

Funding was provided by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, Novartis, the U-M Chemistry Biology Interface Training Program, Wyeth and the U-M Pharmaceutical Sciences Training Program

For more information:

Anna Mapp: https://www.chem.lsa.umich.edu/chem/faculty/facultyDetail.php?Uniqname=amapp

ACS Chemical Biology: http://pubs.acs.org/journal/acbcct

Nancy Ross-Flanigan | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.umich.edu
http://pubs.acs.org/journal/acbcct

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Transport of molecular motors into cilia
28.03.2017 | Aarhus University

nachricht Asian dust providing key nutrients for California's giant sequoias
28.03.2017 | University of California - Riverside

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: A Challenging European Research Project to Develop New Tiny Microscopes

The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.

To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

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...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

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...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

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...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Transport of molecular motors into cilia

28.03.2017 | Life Sciences

A novel hybrid UAV that may change the way people operate drones

28.03.2017 | Information Technology

NASA spacecraft investigate clues in radiation belts

28.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>