Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Transcription factors: function follows form

17.10.2013
Spatial structure determines transcription factor activity

Clay can be used in various forms for a range of objects such as cups, plates or bricks. Similarly, proteins can transform their structure and thus adapt their function and activity.


DNA-induced structural changes (parts that change are colored red) in the DNA binding domain of the glucocorticoid receptor (left) and the structural changes (red) that occur when an extra amino acid is inserted in the DNA binding domain of the glucocorticoid receptor as a consequence of alternative splicing (right).

© MPI f. Molecular Genetics/Meijsing

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin have analysed proteins for such modifications that control gene activity, so-called transcription factors. The researchers thereby discovered that DNA changes the form and the activity of the glucocorticoid receptor, and also ascertained how various domains in the molecule communicate with one another.

Furthermore, the way in which the protein domains are connected also changes as a result of the integration of individual amino acids in the protein chain. Different genes are therefore transcribed to varying degrees.

Transcription factors are responsible for transcribing the correct genes and therefore for producing the right quantity of proteins. They bind to specific sections of DNA near genes, such as promoters for example. However, the transcription factors do not function simply as an on/off switch but rather like a volume control, which allows gene expression to be precisely controlled.

The glucocorticoid receptor is a transcription factor, which, for example, is activated by the hormone cortisol during fasting, resulting in glucose production in the liver. Because of its anti-inflammatory effect, it also plays an important role in the treatment of illnesses caused by an overactive immune system, such as allergies, autoimmune diseases and asthma. Various signals determine its activity, two of which are: firstly, the DNA to which the glucocorticoid receptor binds in order to regulate the gene. The second signal is the integration of additional amino acids in the protein.

The Berlin-based Max Planck researchers have studied how these two signals have an effect, which genes are regulated by the glucocorticoid receptor and how they affect the strength of the regulation. “Our findings show that DNA is not simply a passive strip of Velcro which can be bound by proteins. Instead, DNA changes the shape of the proteins and thereby the communication between various protein domains,” explains Sebastiaan H. Meijsing from the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics. In this way, the glucocorticoid receptor can adapt its activity to individual genes.

Furthermore, different variants of the glucocorticoid receptor exist. They occur when the original RNA chain, produced when the glucocorticoid receptor gene is transcribed, is subsequently modified again. During this process, known as alternative splicing, additional modules can be added to the amino acid chain in the protein. The modification changes the way in which different sections of the glucocorticoid receptor are connected to one another. As a result, different genes can be transcribed to varying degrees. “Transcription factors are like chameleons in the way they can change their appearance. It allows them to respond to different signals and regulate genes with particular precision,” says Meijsing.

Contact

Dr. Sebastian Meijsing
Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics, Berlin
Phone: +49 30 8413-1176
Email: meijsing@­molgen.mpg.de
Dr. Patricia Marquardt
Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics, Berlin
Phone: +49 30 8413-1716
Fax: +49 30 8413-1671
Email: patricia.marquardt@­molgen.mpg.de
Original publication
Morgane Thomas-Chollier, Lisa C. Watson, Samantha B. Cooper, Miles A. Pufall, Jennifer S. Liu, Katja Borzym, Martin Vingron, Keith R. Yamamoto, Sebastiaan H. Meijsing
A naturally occuring insertion of a single amino acid rewires trancriptional regulation by glucocorticoid receptor isoforms

PNAS, 14 October 2013

Dr. Sebastian Meijsing | Max-Planck-Institute
Further information:
http://www.mpg.de/7573582/transcriptions-factor_glucocorticoid-receptor?filter_order=L&research_topic=

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New technique for in-cell distance determination
19.03.2019 | Universität Konstanz

nachricht Dalian Coherent Light Source reveals hydroxyl super rotors from water photochemistry
19.03.2019 | Chinese Academy of Sciences Headquarters

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Stellar cartography

The Potsdam Echelle Polarimetric and Spectroscopic Instrument (PEPSI) at the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) in Arizona released its first image of the surface magnetic field of another star. In a paper in the European journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, the PEPSI team presents a Zeeman- Doppler-Image of the surface of the magnetically active star II Pegasi.

A special technique allows astronomers to resolve the surfaces of faraway stars. Those are otherwise only seen as point sources, even in the largest telescopes...

Im Focus: Heading towards a tsunami of light

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology and the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have proposed a way to create a completely new source of radiation. Ultra-intense light pulses consist of the motion of a single wave and can be described as a tsunami of light. The strong wave can be used to study interactions between matter and light in a unique way. Their research is now published in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.

"This source of radiation lets us look at reality through a new angle - it is like twisting a mirror and discovering something completely different," says...

Im Focus: Revealing the secret of the vacuum for the first time

New research group at the University of Jena combines theory and experiment to demonstrate for the first time certain physical processes in a quantum vacuum

For most people, a vacuum is an empty space. Quantum physics, on the other hand, assumes that even in this lowest-energy state, particles and antiparticles...

Im Focus: Sussex scientists one step closer to a clock that could replace GPS and Galileo

Physicists in the EPic Lab at University of Sussex make crucial development in global race to develop a portable atomic clock

Scientists in the Emergent Photonics Lab (EPic Lab) at the University of Sussex have made a breakthrough to a crucial element of an atomic clock - devices...

Im Focus: Sensing shakes

A new way to sense earthquakes could help improve early warning systems

Every year earthquakes worldwide claim hundreds or even thousands of lives. Forewarning allows people to head for safety and a matter of seconds could spell...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

International Modelica Conference with 330 visitors from 21 countries at OTH Regensburg

11.03.2019 | Event News

Selection Completed: 580 Young Scientists from 88 Countries at the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting

01.03.2019 | Event News

LightMAT 2019 – 3rd International Conference on Light Materials – Science and Technology

28.02.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Levitating objects with light

19.03.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

New technique for in-cell distance determination

19.03.2019 | Life Sciences

Stellar cartography

19.03.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>