Navigation Links
Genes under control
Date:3/30/2010

In order for a gene to create a protein, the gene's DNA must first be converted into what's known as messenger RNA. These RNA molecules are the instruction manuals that show the ribosomes the cell's protein factories how to build a protein. A few years ago, scientists studying bacterial cells discovered sections in certain messenger RNAs that metabolic products (metabolites) can bind to. In doing so, they induce the RNA molecule to change its spatial structure and make it possible to switch protein production on or off. For the bacteria, these sections the riboswitches provide a fast and efficient way of controlling protein synthesis. Unsurprisingly, it had previously been impossible to demonstrate the presence of such riboswitches in the chloroplasts of plant cells.

Max Planck scientists based in Golm near Potsdam were recently the first to modify and insert riboswitches into the genetic material of the chloroplast in order to control the formation of certain chloroplast proteins. The scientists smuggled a gene into the chloroplast DNA and equipped it with a riboswitch. Theophylline, a substance found in the tea plant, was used as the "switch": it has the capacity to bind to the riboswitch on the messenger RNA, thereby enabling the chloroplast ribosomes to read the RNA. "When we spray the tobacco plants with theophylline, we find that the chloroplasts form the corresponding protein. In the absence of theophylline, no protein is produced. So the theophylline riboswitch allows us to switch a gene on or off at will and see what effects result," explains Ralph Bock from the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology. This had previously been a difficult thing to achieve, given that the chloroplast genome contains numerous genes which are essential for survival. Switching one of these genes off permanently would result in the death of the cell, rendering it useless for further investigation.

However, studying the way chloroplasts work in more specific detail is not the only thing that can be done with the theophylline riboswitch. Riboswitches could also play an important role in the biotechnology of the future, given that chloroplasts are well-suited to the production of potential drugs. That's because each tobacco cell contains as many as 100 chloroplasts. The chloroplast genome is therefore present in many copies. As a result, it is capable of building more proteins than the DNA in the cell nucleus. By way of example, the Potsdam-based scientists modified the genes of the tobacco plant such that it was able to produce large quantities of an antibiotic in its leaves.

Chloroplasts rarely spread through pollen

Proteins could be produced in much larger quantities in genetically modified chloroplasts. In many cases, however, these foreign proteins damage cellular metabolism or photosynthesis if the cells produce them continuously. Consequently, the growth of such plants is often inhibited or extremely slow. Riboswitches could prevent that. They could be used to switch on the corresponding genes when the plant is already fully formed and about to be harvested. Foreign genes have another advantage in the chloroplasts besides this: they are inherited almost without exception through the female egg cell. It is therefore extremely rare for foreign genes to spread through the pollen of the tobacco plants.


'/>"/>

Contact: Ralph Bock
rbock@mpimp-golm.mpg.de
49-331-567-8700
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Autism susceptibility genes identified
2. Searching for genes behind a trait
3. Genome mapping technique speeds process of finding specific genes
4. Genes may exert opposite effects in diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease
5. Study finds genes that keep watch on blood clotting time
6. A fingerprint for genes
7. New research shows genes of pregnant women and their fetuses can increase the risk of preterm labor
8. TGen becomes center of excellence for Horizon Discoverys GENESIS and X-MAN technology
9. Ability to navigate may be linked to genes, researcher says
10. Are new genes always better?
11. Genes found linked to breast cancer drug resistance could guide future treatment choices
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/1/2016)... February 1, 2016 Rising sales ... drive global touchfree intuitive gesture control market ... Rising sales of consumer electronics coupled with new technological ... size through 2020   ... with new technological advancements to drive global touchfree intuitive ...
(Date:1/27/2016)... CHESTER, Ohio , Jan. 27, 2016  Rite ... supplier based in West Chester, Ohio ... their award winning service staff, based in ... technical capacity and ability to provide modifications, installations and ... John Dovalina , CEO of PLUS, commented, "PLUS has ...
(Date:1/22/2016)... , Jan. 22, 2016 ... the addition of the "Global Biometrics ... to their offering. --> ... the "Global Biometrics Market in Retail ... --> Research and Markets ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/11/2016)... Feb. 11, 2016  Vermillion, Inc. (NASDAQ: VRML ... today announced the formation of the Steering Committee for ... --> Pelvic masses can present physicians ... management. Once pregnancy is ruled out, pelvic masses may ... advanced endometriosis, benign ovarian tumors and gastrointestinal and urinary ...
(Date:2/11/2016)... ATLANTA , Feb. 11, 2016  Wellcentive ... a Portland, Oregon -based community ... to provide population health analytics, quality reporting and ... help FamilyCare strengthen its team of quality managers, ... reporting to the provider groups serving FamilyCare members. ...
(Date:2/11/2016)... --  BioInformant announces the February 2016 release of ... Tools, and Technologies – Market Size, Segments, Trends, and ... The first and only market research ... has more than a decade of historical information on ... cell type. This powerful 175 page global strategic report ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... - BioAmber Inc. (NYSE: BIOA ), a leader ... & Co. Ltd., its partner in the ... an additional CDN$25 million in the joint venture for ... to 40%.  Mitsui will also play a stronger role ... Sarnia , providing dedicated resources alongside BioAmber,s ...
Breaking Biology Technology: