Decoded process could hold the key to future treatments for a wide range of chronic health problems including Motor Neuron Disease, myotonic dystrophy and a wide range of cancers, University of Sheffield scientists have revealed.
Experts from the University's Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, collaborating with scientists from Harvard Medical School in the USA, have revealed how a complicated set of proteins called TREX act as a passport for the transfer of cell blueprints which create proteins that are essential for life.
The researchers believe their better understanding will mean they can ultimately fix problems in the process which cause fatal health conditions like Motor Neuron Disease, myotonic dystrophy and a wide range of cancers.
Professor Stuart Wilson, who led the groundbreaking project, said: "Protein production is an essential part of life for all organisms. This process involves reading the code in genes and converting this to a message which is ultimately decoded to make a protein.
"The message is made of a special molecule called mRNA. In all organisms from yeast through to man the mRNA is made in a compartment in the cell called the nucleus, but then has to be transported to a separate compartment, called the cytoplasm, where it is decoded to make a protein. This process of mRNA transport is essential for life and when it malfunctions in humans it can lead to diseases such as Motor Neuron Disease or cancer."
Researchers have shown how proteins called TREX provide a mark on the mRNA which acts as the passport which unlocks a transporter protein called Nxf1, allowing it to land on the mRNA and transport it to the cytoplasm to create proteins.
Professor Wilson added: "When a car is built in a factory, it goes through various stages of production with parts being added and, hopefully, quality control checks before it is driven out of the factory and into the salesroom.
|Contact: Paul Mannion|
University of Sheffield