"It appears the clock influences a number of biological processes, including cell cycling, protein metabolism and varied signaling processes," said Arnold. "But perhaps the most important role we've seen so far is the clock's role in ribosome biogenesis."
Ribosomes assemble individual amino acids into polypeptide chains by binding a messenger RNA and then using this as a template to connect the correct sequence of amino acids. Ribosome biogenesis is the process of making ribosomes, so knowledge that the process is under clock control adds a dramatic new dimension to the clock's inherent biological value as an adaptation.
The new Computing Life technology, refined in the Arnold and Schuttler labs, integrates several cycles of modeling and experiments to yield discoveries about a genetic network. Using Computing Life, the scientists were able to unravel how a network of genes and their products tell time, thereby demonstrating the solution of one of the key problems in systems biology.
"The resulting molecular mechanism or genetic network for the clock identified by this mode-guided discovery process will have a broad appeal to geneticists, physiologists and those with an interest in signaling pathways," said Arnold. "The methods used to characterize what makes a biological clock tick will have numerous applications in finding genetic networks describing other complex traits in many biological systems."
Computing Life will also allow researchers to design a sequence of genomics experiments that will winnow the field of competing hypotheses and to move experiments in directions where new discoveries are likely to arise.
Biological clocks hold the key to much of life and disease processes. In February 2007, Arnold's team reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences the first
|Contact: Phil Williams|
University of Georgia