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Case researcher in RNA biology makes waves by challenging current thinking
Date:1/18/2008

In the January 18th issue of Molecular Cell, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine researcher Kristian E. Baker, Ph.D. challenges molecular biologys established body of evidence and widely-accepted model for nonsense-mediated messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) decay. With her collaborator, Ambro van Hoof, Ph.D. of The University of Texas Health Sciences Center, Baker directly tested the faux 3 UTR model and proved it could not explain how cells recognize and destroy deviant mRNA. This landmark discovery will redirect mRNA research and expand opportunities for new discoveries in understanding the cells ability to protect itself from these potential errors.

In all cells, including human, mRNA is a copy of the information carried by a gene on the DNA. Occasionally, mRNA contains errors that can make the information it carries unusable. Cells posses a remarkable mechanism to detect these aberrant mRNAs and eliminate them from the cell this process represents a very important quality control system for gene expression. A significant amount of past research in this area of RNA biology has collected data to support the faux 3 UTR model for mRNA quality control, and, as a result, has shaped present research directions in the field, said Baker. Our recent findings preclude this explanation and will, undoubtedly, result in a rethinking by many as to how to experimentally approach this important cellular process.

For decades researchers have been puzzled by cells ability to differentiate between normal mRNA and those carrying certain types of mutations. mRNA transports DNAs genetic coding information to the sites of protein synthesis: ribosomes. Cells are able to identify mRNA carrying a mutation and prevent it from reaching the protein synthesis phase. Once identified, the cell destroys the abnormal, mutated mRNA. This naturally occurring process ensures malfunctioning proteins are not produced. Using a yeast model system, Bakers research
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Contact: Jessica Studeny
jessica.studeny@case.edu
216-368-4692
Case Western Reserve University
Source:Eurekalert

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