Two professors at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) have succeeded in tracing intricate biochemical networks involving a class of proteins that enable genes to express themselves in specific tissues at particular moments in development.
Michael Q. Zhang, Ph.D. and Adrian R. Krainer, Ph.D., both professors at CSHL and heads of laboratories, are exploring a phenomenon that biologists and geneticists call RNA splicing. Splicing is a key step in the multi-step process that transmits a gene's instructions to a cell, telling it how and when to manufacture specific protein molecules, and how much to produce.
Poorly understood until recently, the splicing machinery and the networks that control it are only now coming into clear view. In a paper appearing this week in the journal Genes & Development, Drs. Zhang, Krainer, and colleagues from CSHL, Stony Brook University, and Rosetta Inpharmatics, reveal how two closely related proteins called Fox-1 and Fox-2--which are two among many splicing factors--control regulatory networks involving many other genes.
These regulatory networks, which are surprisingly extensive and highly conserved by evolution, help scientists gain insights into gene regulation in different cellsin these experiments, brain and muscle cells. The work is also relevant to understanding dysfunction, which in brain and muscle has been implicated in a range of developmental illnesses from autism to heart disease.
Alternative splicing helps explain human complexity
Fox-1 and Fox-2 are two among several hundred splicing factors, a class of proteins whose highly specialized functions help explain human complexity. Biologists involved in the Human Genome Project were frankly astonished to discover that everything that makes us human is the product of a set of only 23,000 or so genes. That number in itself, though several times smaller than prior estimates, is not shocking; it is the re
|Contact: Peter Tarr|
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory