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X chromosomes: Undoing a hairpin doubles gene activity
Date:7/29/2013

ut we were unable to demonstrate a specific binding interaction between the hairpin and the MSL protein components of the DCC", Becker explains.

The reason for this is revealed in the new study. It turns out that the hairpin structure actually prevents protein binding. The hairpin must first be unwound by a specific enzyme before the MSL proteins can bind to the RNAs and a functional DCC is formed. The closed hairpin conformation is equivalent to a switch fixed in the OFF position. Unwinding of the hairpin flips the switch to ON, thus permitting assembly of the active DCC. "We believe that this switch is only activated under conditions that are found at certain sites on the X chromosome. This would ensure that dosage compensation is restricted to genes on the X", says Becker.

The researchers now assume that long RNAs play a much more active role in other regulatory complexes than has been suspected hitherto. Up to now, these RNAs have been seen as passive scaffolds for the binding of proteins. "We think though that they modulate the activity of the proteins they associate with. And we have now shown this for the DCC", Becker says. He will continue to work in this field. "Now it's getting really exciting," he says.


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Contact: Luise Dirscherl
dirscherl@lmu.de
49-892-180-2706
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitt Mnchen
Source:Eurekalert

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