The production of lariat RNAs is a key step in the biologically important process of splicing. Because splicing changes the protein that is made from a given gene, a fundamental understanding of splicing is critical for comprehending the connections between genes and proteins. The study of splicing, however, has been very difficult in part because lariat RNAs have been nearly impossible to make artificially.
Chemical reaction catalyzed by a DNA enzyme that creates lariat RNA.
Stylized diagram of a lariat RNA showing the branch site. The various colors represent the different nucleotides A, G, C and U.
Now, chemistry professor Scott K. Silverman and graduate student Yangming Wang at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have found artificial deoxyribozymes (DNA enzymes) that synthesize branched and lariat RNAs. The researchers report their discovery in a paper that has been accepted for publication in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, and posted on its Web site
"Lariat RNAs are crucial intermediates in the biological splicing of messenger RNAs," Silverman said. "The lariat RNAs synthesized by our new DNA enzymes should help provide a detailed biochemical understanding of RNA splicing."
James E. Kloeppel | EurekAlert!
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