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Boston University scientists first to see RNA network in live bacterial cells
Date:10/22/2009

tein."

In this new work, the team modified this system to allow for the controlled synthesis of RNAallowing the researchers to track RNA as soon as it appears in the cell. For the study, they used live Eschericha coli cells, the simplest bacteria model, and a nonfunctional RNA. To monitor the RNA and capture images as it moved through the cell, the team used a sophisticated microscope and detection system developed by colleague Amit Meller, a co-author of the study and associate professor of biological engineering at Boston University. Meller's system made it possible to watch RNA in whole cells with high resolution. Their observations are not only the first of their kind, they also contradict previously held theories about RNA localization, which held that RNA was evenly distributed throughout the cell.

"The first thing we saw is that RNA is localized along mostly the periphery of the cell," Broude says. One possibility for this could be that the middle of the bacterial cell, which is occupied by DNA, is less accessible to the RNA.

The researchers also noted that the RNA appeared to form helical structures resembling those seen in proteins involved in producing the cell's cytoskeleton, which is involved in DNA replication, cell division and other important processes. "They are necessary structural elements which rule all changes in bacterial life," Broude says. "But we need to learn more before we can say anything about the RNA helical structure's function."

With this new technology in place, Broude and her colleagues can learn more about the RNA network they've observed, examine the localization and movement of other types of RNA in live bacterial cells and, ultimately, mammalian cells.


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Contact: Natasha E. Broude, Ph.D
nebroude@bu.edu
617-358-4367
Boston University
Source:Eurekalert

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