"A lot is known about how mRNAs are made, but much less is understood about the mechanisms that control their destruction," said Michael Bender, Ph.D., who oversees RNA processing grants at the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of General Medical Sciences. "This work breaks new ground by shedding light on one of the cell's major mRNA degradation pathwaysa key regulatory point for gene expressionand by challenging accepted models of mRNA decay."
Dr. Coller's findings raise several interesting mechanistic questions, for instance how mRNA's are destroyed at different rates. Some are long lived, some short lived. Scientists currently do not understand how these differences in mRNA decay rate are determined, but clearly this understanding is vital for predicting how mutations will impact cellular function.
"Now that we have found that mRNAs are degraded on ribosomes we can begin to understand how the degradation machinery interacts with ribosomes and how it is triggered to destroy the message," said Dr. Coller. "Eventually, we hope to create a rule book that would allow us to predict which mRNA is going to last only a few minutes and which will be expressed hours or days. This has huge impact on cellular protein levels and perhaps this understanding would lead to new advances in gene therapy and viral vaccinations."
|Contact: Christina DeAngelis|
Case Western Reserve University