Biological chemists at the University of north Carolina at Chapel Hill, state about the discovery of how living organisms convert genetic instructions into action.
The UNC scientists have found a previously unknown chemical site on a key enzyme that regulates production of the genetic messenger known as RNA. When the chemical site is occupied, it markedly speeds up the process by which the information contained in DNA,is converted into functions critical for maintaining life.
A report authored by Dorothy .A. Erie, Assitant Professor in Chemistry and her team say that " the information for all the genes in an organism is containd in its DNA.For this information to be translated into function, sections of the DNA must be copied into an RNA chain. The RNA is then translated ino proteins that must carry out particular functions such as wound healing which is at the end of a complicated cascade of events in the body.
Transcription is the process of making RNA chains from DNA.In a series of complicated experiments with the enzyme from the bacteria E.Coli. Erie and her students found that when the precursor molecule does not occupy the newly discovered site, the enzyme copies the DNA slowly.When the molecule occupies the site, producton of RNA kicks into overdrive.The process than occurs about 10 times faster than it would otherwise.
"Such rapid synthesis is essential for proper cellular function.The discovery of this additional binding site will change the view of how transcription is regulated in the cell" Erie said.She further added that many cancers involve over or improper expression of genes and some are regulated at the level of transcription.Knowing now that there are two binding sites on the enzyme instead of one will enable scientists to interpret data they collect much more accurately.