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A novel mechanism for fast regulation of gene expression
Date:3/18/2014

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Does RNA interference regulate gene expression?

But the scientists had also noticed that the two genes overlapped a bit at their tips. The tips, called the 3' UTRs (untranslated regions), don't code for protein but are transcribed into mRNA.

That got them thinking. When the two genes were transcribed into mRNA, the two ends would complement one another like the hooks and loops of a Velcro fastener. Like the hooks and loops, they would want to stick together, forming a short section of double-stranded mRNA. And double-stranded mRNA, they knew, activates biochemical machinery that degrades any mRNA molecules with the same genetic sequence.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0H6EgLCYcX4&feature=youtu.be

Double-stranded RNA binds to a protein complex called Dicer that cuts it into fragments. Another protein complex, RISC, binds these fragments. One of the RNA strands is eliminated but the other remains bound to the RISC complex. RISC and its attached RNA then becomes a heat-seeking missile that finds and destroys other copies of the same RNA. If the mRNA molecules disappear, their corresponding proteins are never made.

It turned out that heat sensitivity in the fly is all about potassium channel, said Ben-Shahar. What if, he thought, the two mRNAs stuck together, the mRNA segment encoding the potassium channel was bound to RISC and other copies of the potassium channel mRNA were destroyed. This was another, potentially faster way the neurons might be controlling the excitability of their membranes.

A designer fly provides an answer

Which is it? Is regulation occurring at the gene level or the mRNA level?

To find out, the scientists made designer fruit flies that had various combinations of the genes and their sticky noncoding ends. One of these transgenic fly lines was missing the part of the gene
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Contact: Diana Lutz
dlutz@wustl.edu
314-935-5272
Washington University in St. Louis
Source:Eurekalert  

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