Understanding the RNA binding protein and its functions inside the cell

by Medindia Content Team on  January 29, 2006 at 4:40 PM Research News   - G J E 4
Understanding the RNA binding protein and its functions inside the cell
Researchers at the University Of Pennsylvania School Of Medicine developed a new technique which will help us to understand the way RNA molecule interacts with the other molecules present in the cell.

RNA-binding proteins are special molecules that play a key role in managing some of the cell's most basic functions. James Eberwine, PhD, Professor of Pharmacology at Penn, and colleagues published their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

This will help the scientists to understand the all aspects of RNA metabolism in cells better. With this technology it is possible to study how manipulation of cellular physiology, such as administering a drug, changes RNA-binding protein and RNA interactions.

RNA (Ribonucleic acid) is the genetic material that is derived from the DNA and programs the cells to make proteins. There are many types of RNA in the cells of mammals, such as transfer RNA (tRNA), ribosomal RNA rRNA), and messenger RNA (mRNA). They all have their respective functions to carry on within the cell.

RNA-binding proteins are rightly called as the workhorses of the cells as they regulate every aspect of RNA function. Their main functions are transporting RNA from one site to another inside the cell, translation of RNA into proteins and degrading the used RNA.

The researchers studied using whole neurons from rodents to identify RNA interactions in live cells. A multi-talented molecule was made by the Penn researchers in association with Ûlo Langel from Stockholm University.

This molecule once inside the cells is not easily broken by the enzymes. To one end of the molecule is attached a peptide nucleic acid (PNA) which has a cell-penetrating peptide called transportan 10.

This helps the PNA to pass through the cell membrane. After this the PNA binds to a specific target messenger RNA (mRNA). Then another compound which is activated by light cross-links the PNA to the nearby protein.

The researchers then isolate an array of proteins from the complex of the PNA, the targeted mRNAs, and associated RNA-binding proteins. The cells are then degraded and the proteins that interact with the mRNA are identified with a mass spectrometer.

Further research is being done to identify RNA-binding proteins that bind RNAs of interest such as those involved in the targeting, degradation, and translation of RNAs into proteins. This will help them to identify those RNAs which play a role in the disease process.


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