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Study of how genes activate yields surprising discovery
Date:12/5/2010

December 5, 2010 ─ (BRONX, NY) ─ Scientists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have made an unexpected finding about the method by which certain genes are activated. Contrary to what researchers have traditionally assumed, genes that work with other genes to build protein structures do not act in a coordinated way but instead are turned on randomly. The surprising discovery, described in the December 5 online edition of Nature Structural and Molecular Biology, may fundamentally change the way scientists think about the way cellular processes are synchronized.

All cells contain protein complexes that perform essential functions, such as producing energy and helping cells divide. Assembling these multi-protein structures requires many different genes, each of which codes for one of the proteins that, collectively, form what's known as the protein complex. Ribosomes, for example, are the vitally important structures on which proteins are synthesized. (The ribosomes of humans and most other organisms are composed of ribonucleic acid (RNA) and 80 different proteins.) Scientists have long assumed that genes involved in making such complex structures are activated in a highly-coordinated way.

"What we found was rather astonishing," said Robert Singer, Ph.D., professor and co-chair of anatomy and structural biology, professor of cell biology and of neuroscience at Einstein and senior author of the study. "The expression of the genes that make the protein subunits of ribosomes and other multi-protein complexes is not at all coordinated or co-regulated. In fact, such genes are so out of touch with each other
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Contact: Kim Newman
sciencenews@einstein.yu.edu
718-430-3101
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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