University of Michigan chemists have used small molecules to take a big step forward in controlling gene activity.
Scientists have been trying for some time to develop molecules that mimic natural regulators of gene expression. These natural regulators, called transcription factors, prompt particular genes to be active or to stay quiet. Their role is crucial, because errors in gene regulation can lead to diseases ranging from diabetes to cancer. Creating synthetic versions, known as artificial transcription factors or ATFs, could help scientists probe gene regulation and perhaps lead to new treatment approaches.
Both natural transcription factors and their artificial counterparts typically have two essential parts: a DNA-binding domain that homes in on the specific gene to be regulated, and a regulatory domain that attaches itself to the cell’s machinery and activates or represses the gene.
Recently, U-M assistant professor of chemistry Anna Mapp and coworkers designed small molecules that mimic in a general way the features of natural transcriptional activators. In this research, published online in the Journal of the American Chemical Society earlier this month, small molecule artificial activation domains developed in Mapp’s lab were as effective as a natural activation domain at turning on genes.
Small molecules have great advantages as artificial gene regulators, said Mapp, who also will discuss the work Aug. 22 at a meeting of the American Chemical Society in Philadelphia. They are less likely than larger molecules to be degraded, and they should be easier to introduce into cells---features that would be critical if ATFs are to be used in treating disease.
Next, Mapp’s group plans to investigate exactly how their artificial activators work. "We haven’t rigorously proven that they function by the same mechanism as natural activators, but they seem to be quite analogous," she said. The researchers also will try attaching their activators to different DNA-binding domains to see if that affects their activity.
Record levels of mercury released by thawing permafrost in Canadian Arctic
13.12.2018 | University of Alberta
Stanford researcher deciphers flows that help bacteria feed and organize biofilms
13.12.2018 | Stanford University
What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...
A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.
The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...
A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.
Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...
Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...
What if a sensor sensing a thing could be part of the thing itself? Rice University engineers believe they have a two-dimensional solution to do just that.
Rice engineers led by materials scientists Pulickel Ajayan and Jun Lou have developed a method to make atom-flat sensors that seamlessly integrate with devices...
12.12.2018 | Event News
10.12.2018 | Event News
06.12.2018 | Event News
13.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
13.12.2018 | Earth Sciences
13.12.2018 | Life Sciences