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 Navigational view of the brain thanks to powerful X-rays
18.10.2017 | Georgia Institute of Technology

nachricht Separating methane and CO2 will become more efficient
18.10.2017 | KU Leuven

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Osaka university researchers make the slipperiest surfaces adhesive

18.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

Space radiation won't stop NASA's human exploration

18.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Los Alamos researchers and supercomputers help interpret the latest LIGO findings

18.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>