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New 3-D model of RNA 'core domain' of enzyme telomerase may offer clues to cancer, aging
Date:11/4/2010

copies from RNA to DNA.

"Reverse transcriptases normally copy RNA to DNA but do not contain RNA; in this enzyme, the protein requires the RNA component to function.

"Telomerase is unique because the template is part of the enzyme, and it is used to copy one telomere repeat and then starts over and makes another, and another, all attached to one another. That is how telomerase extends the telomeres," she said. "Telomerase has its own internal piece of RNA that is used to copy the DNA, but this 'template' is only approximately 10 of the 451 nucleotides."

Telomerase has been extremely difficult to characterize structurally because of its size and complexity and its low level in normal cells.

Other co-authors on the PNAS paper are Nak-Kyoon Kim, a postdoctoral scholar in Feigon's laboratory; Robert Peterson, a research scientist in Feigon's laboratory; and Zhonghua Wang, a postdoctoral scholar in Feigon's laboratory. This PNAS research is Feigon's inaugural article as a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Feigon's laboratory studies the 3D structures of DNA and RNA and how proteins and DNA and RNA recognize one another to switch genes on and off in cells. A member of UCLA's faculty since 1985, Feigon was the first UCLA scientist to use NMR to determine DNA and RNA structures. She and her colleagues utilize a range of molecular biological, biochemical and biophysical techniques.

Serendipity often plays a prominent role in science, and this is another example. When Feigon began her research on telomeres and telomerase in the early 1990s, she was not even thinking about cancer. Instead, she was interested in studying DNA structure.


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Contact: Stuart Wolpert
swolpert@support.ucla.edu
310-206-0511
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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