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Protein 'rescues' stuck cellular factories
Date:3/19/2014

ir genetic makeup. That sequence data was then matched to the messenger RNA it came from, giving the researchers a picture of exactly which RNA and thus, which genes were being turned into protein at a given moment in time.

Green and postdoctoral fellow Nick Guydosh, Ph.D., adapted this method to see what Dom34 was up to. Guydosh wrote a computer program to compare footprint data from yeast with and without functioning Dom34 genes. The program then determined where on messenger RNAs the ribosomes in cells without Dom34 tended to stall. It was at these points that Dom34 was rescuing the ribosomes in the normal cells, Guydosh says.

"What many of these 'traffic jams' had in common was that the RNA lacked a stop codon where the ribosome could be recycled normally," he says. For example, some of the problem messenger RNAs were incomplete a common occurrence, as chopping up messenger RNAs is one way cells regulate how much of a protein is produced.

In others, the RNA had a stop codon, but something strange and unexpected was going on in these latter cases: The ribosomes kept going past the place where the stop codon was and went into a no man's land without protein-making instructions. "Ribosomes kept moving but stopped making protein, at least for a time," Guydosh says. "As far as we know, this 'scanning' activity has never been seen before it was a big surprise."

"What these results show us is why we need Dom34 to survive: It's the only protein that can rescue ribosomes stuck on RNAs," says Green. "Without it, cells eventually run out of the ribosomes they need to make protein."


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Contact: Shawna Williams
shawna@jhmi.edu
410-955-8236
Johns Hopkins Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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