Navigation Links
Scientists devise way to measure RNA synthesis on the fly in a live cell

A team of scientists at the University of Chicago has developed a non-invasive laboratory technique that allows them to instantly map when genes are switching off and on in a living bacterium as it becomes exposed to antibiotics and other changes in its environment.

The technique, which is announced in the Monday, June 13 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could help scientists discover new drugs and learn to what extent some RNA molecules help control the blueprint of life.

"The standard assumption has been that DNA encoding for proteins was the sole actor to control the blueprint for all of life," said Philippe Cluzel, an Assistant Professor in Physics at the University of Chicago. "After announcing the completion of the human genome, biologists have realized that the DNA sequence wasn't enough to explain the observed complexity of biological function."

Cluzel, a biophysicist, co-authored the PNAS article with Thuc Le, Sebastien Harlepp, Calin Guet, Kimberly Dittmar, Thierry Emonet and Tao Pan, all of the University of Chicago. Their research was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the University of Chicago's Materials Research Center for Science and Engineering and the Institute for Biophysical Dynamics.

Cluzel compares the unaccounted-for complexity of biological function today to the situation 20 years ago in astronomy, when scientists realized that the celestial objects visible to them did not contain enough gravity to explain the motion of galaxies. "They proposed the hypothesis that the motion of galaxies is affected by the presence of invisible matter called 'dark matter,'" Cluzel said.

In recent years, astronomers have rushed to design experiments that might help them determine what dark matter is made of. "RNA molecules could be called the 'dark matter' of biology," Cluzel said.

Biologists have long known that RNA serves as an important intermediary between DNA and the f actories throughout the cell that produce proteins. Some biologists have recently begun to identify families of RNA molecules that also play a major role in determining when and how genes are turned on and off, but they have lacked the ability to monitor action of these molecules as it happens within a single living cell.

Now Cluzel and his associates, using a technique called fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS), have shown how to monitor the link between RNA synthesis and promoters-small pieces of DNA that turn genes on and off-in a living cell.

"Because RNA molecules are intrinsically unstable, it has been extremely challenging to measure and characterize the mode of action of RNA molecules within a living cell," Cluzel said.

The techniques previously used to study RNA required killing and breaking up a cell in order to extract an RNA molecule. With those techniques, "one cannot detect in real time the underlying dynamics of RNA synthesis associated with cellular activities," he said. But the scientists in his laboratory have found a way around this with a technique called fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS).

First, they use an RNA molecule that will bind to a protein called MS2. This MS2 protein also is fused to a green fluorescent protein that a laser can detect within a microscopically small volume.

In the absence of RNA, the MS2 fused to the fluorescent protein moves rapidly. But when bound to RNA, the fused proteins move more slowly. From the speed of motion, "we can infer the concentration of RNA present inside the detection volume and a single living cell," said Thuc Le, a graduate student in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and the lead author of the PNAS paper.

This new technique will now facilitate research that may reveal how RNA molecules, like proteins, turn genes on and off, Cluzel said.


'"/>

Source:University of Chicago


Related biology news :

1. Scientists ID molecular switch in liver that triggers harmful effects of saturated and trans fats
2. Scientists Replicate Hepatitis C Virus in Laboratory
3. Scientists detect probable genetic cause of some Parkinsons disease cases
4. Scientists find missing enzyme for tuberculosis iron scavenging pathway
5. Scientists seek answers on what activates deadly anthrax spores
6. Yale Scientists Find MicroRNA Regulates Ras Cancer Gene
7. Scientists collaborate to assess health of global environment
8. Scientists decipher genome of fungus that can cause life-threatening infections
9. Scientists discover the cellular roots of graying hair
10. Scientists rid stem cell culture of key animal cells
11. Scientists develop new color-coded test for protein folding
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:


(Date:2/2/2016)... Feb. 2, 2016  Based on its recent ... Sullivan recognizes US-based Intelligent Retinal Imaging Systems (IRIS) ... Award for New Product Innovation. IRIS, a prominent ... North America , is poised to set ... diabetic retinopathy market. The IRIS technology presents superior ...
(Date:2/1/2016)... -- Wocket® smart wallet ( www.wocketwallet.com ) announces the launch of a new ... Las Vegas , where Joey appeared at the ... Las Vegas , where Joey appeared at the Wocket booth to ... was filmed at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES2016) in Las ... and greet fans. --> --> ...
(Date:1/25/2016)... BLUE BELL, Pa. , Jan. 25, 2016   Unisys ... facial recognition system at John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport, ... and Border Protection (CBP) identify imposters attempting to enter ... or do not belong to them. pilot testing ... rolled out initially at three terminals at JFK during January 2016. ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/5/2016)... Feb. 5, 2016 Australian-US drug discovery and development ... the appointment of a new Chairman, Mr John O,Connor ... effective immediately. James Garner , has also ... and former Acting CEO, Mr Iain Ross , will ... --> James Garner , has also been formally ...
(Date:2/4/2016)... ... February 04, 2016 , ... ... Club, takes place February 5-6 at the University’s student center, Kehr Union, ... such as workshops and competitions for ample networking, learning and collaborating opportunities. ...
(Date:2/4/2016)... ContraVir Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: CTRV ), ... of targeted antiviral therapies, announced today that it will ... be held February 8-9, 2016, at the Waldorf Astoria ... & Healthcare Conference, taking place in New ... James Sapirstein , Chief Executive Officer of ContraVir, will ...
(Date:2/4/2016)... ... February 04, 2016 , ... Many of the engineers at FireflySci, Inc. ... What sets them apart from other cuvette manufacturers is their supercharged customer service and ... On top of this steady flow of inside information, they have recently revamped their ...
Breaking Biology Technology: