Thursday, 7 March 2019

Insight into protein formation could aid understanding of diseases


Scientists have shed light on a biological process that helps the production of healthy cells, which may aid understanding of neurological diseases and other conditions. Researchers examined a housekeeping mechanism which removes faulty proteins as they form. This process, which is common to many living things, removes damaged proteins, preventing their accumulation in cells, tissues and organs.

An improved understanding of how flaws can occur in protein production could help explain other diseases, including some forms of anemia and growth retardation.

Scientists from the University of Edinburgh used the simple model organism yeast to look at how proteins are produced. During this process, genetic information encoded in the DNA is first copied into a related molecule called RNA and then used to produce proteins.

The team concentrated on a part of this mechanism that removes proteins that become stalled part way through their formation. This clears the way for further proteins to be produced.

Scientists studied a yeast protein known as Hel2, using UV light to identify where this protein touches molecules involved in protein production. These interactions help Hel2 identify flaws in protein formation.


When researchers removed the parts of Hel2 in direct contact, this prevented the destruction of faulty proteins, showing that these contacts are important for the mechanism.

See: Marie-Luise Winz, Lauri Peil, Tomasz W. Turowski, Juri Rappsilber, David Tollervey. Molecular interactions between Hel2 and RNA supporting ribosome-associated quality control. Nature Communications, 2019; 10 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-08382-z

Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle, Pharmaceutical Microbiology

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