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CSHL scientists discover new details of a gene-regulatory network governing metabolism
Date:2/22/2008

Cold Spring Harbor, NY Metabolism is a central feature of life a myriad of biochemical processes that, together, enable organisms to nourish and sustain themselves. Scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) are in the forefront of efforts to demonstrate how the regulation of genes governs fundamental life processes, including metabolism.

Such research, performed on simple model organisms like yeast cells, has implications for efforts to understand natural processes such as aging and disease states including cancer.

This week a team at CSHL led by Professor Leemor Joshua-Tor, Ph.D., announced a new and unexpected wrinkle in a story they previously thought they understood about how yeast cells, through the action of genes, adjust their metabolism in response to changes in their sources of food. The teams findings were published February 22 in the journal Science.

Adapting to New Energy Sources

S. cerevisiae, or common bakers yeast, can use any number of different types of sugar molecules for energy production, noted Dr. Joshua-Tor, a structural biologist. Importantly, the yeast cell can rapidly respond to changes in its nutritional environment by altering the expression of specific genes that allow it to make use of those different energy sources.

This much, notes Dr. Joshua-Tor and colleagues, has been understood for years. The players involved in this process have been known for some time. But we did not understand precisely how the components of this particular biochemical pathway worked together, said Stephen Johnston, a professor at the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University and a co-author of the study.

It was Dr. Joshua-Tors team at CSHL that took the step of investigating the architecture of the proteins involved in the pathway, at the level of individual atoms. Using a technique called x-ray crystallography, they discovered a player in the molecular cast of characters
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Contact: Jim Bono
bono@cshl.edu
516-367-8455
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert  

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