April 21, 2011 − (BRONX, NY) − Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have for the first time observed the activity of a single gene in living cells. In an unprecedented study, published in the April 22 online edition of Science, Einstein scientists were able to follow, in real time, the process of gene transcription, which occurs when a gene converts its DNA information into molecules of messenger RNA (mRNA) that go on to make the protein coded by the gene.
Robert Singer, Ph.D., co-director of the Gruss Lipper Biophotonics Center at Einstein and professor and co-chair of anatomy and structural biology, is senior author of the paper. The study's lead author is Daniel Larson, Ph.D., previously a member of Dr. Singer's lab and now an investigator at the National Cancer Institute and head of the institute's Systems Biology of Gene Expression Section.
Using florescent proteins, the researchers were able to follow mRNA activity by inserting DNA sequences into a gene in live yeast cells. RNA made from these sequences bound a modified green fluorescent protein; expression of the entire gene resulted in mRNA molecules that were visible with fluorescent light. Gene transcription is a key step in synthesizing proteins, which govern the body's structure and function and underlie many diseases when present in mutated form or in aberrant amounts.
The study involved monitoring the activity of RNA polymerasethe enzyme that constructs mRNA molecules by linking single nucleoti
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Albert Einstein College of Medicine