Lab identifies new role for factor critical to transcription

June 17, 2008

The Stowers Institute's Shilatifard Lab has identified a new role for the elongation factor ELL in gene transcription by RNA polymerase II (Pol II) — the enzyme that synthesizes messenger RNA to carry genetic information from DNA to the protein-synthesizing machinery of the cell.

Precise control of the timing and location of transcript elongation by Pol II is essential for development. In a paper published online in the Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the team found that ELL plays a fundamental role in the regulation of gene expression by causing temporary interruptions of the action of Pol II in the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster).

"Biological mechanisms such as the 'pausing' of Pol II at nearby promoters have been found at many regulated genes," explained Ali Shilatifard, Ph.D., Investigator. "In this study, we wanted to determine whether the elongation factor ELL is required for the regulation of the temporary interruptions of Pol II transcription in a living organism."

"ELL is found in translocation with the MLL gene in childhood leukemia," said Edwin Smith, Ph.D., Research Scientist in the Shilatifard Lab. "We know very little about the role of these factors in the pathogenesis of leukemia and, therefore, understanding the molecular basis of ELL function will be instrumental for future studies aimed at developing targeted therapeutics for the treatment of translocation-based leukemia."

The Shilatifard Lab will continue to work with the reagents developed in this study to learn more about the molecular properties of ELL in the fruit fly in the hope of elucidating the role of ELL in human disease.

Source: Stowers Institute for Medical Research

Explore further: Control of gene expression: Mediator MED26 shifts an idling polymerase into high gear

Related Stories

Recommended for you

'Material universe' yields surprising new particle

November 25, 2015

An international team of researchers has predicted the existence of a new type of particle called the type-II Weyl fermion in metallic materials. When subjected to a magnetic field, the materials containing the particle act ...

CERN collides heavy nuclei at new record high energy

November 25, 2015

The world's most powerful accelerator, the 27 km long Large Hadron Collider (LHC) operating at CERN in Geneva established collisions between lead nuclei, this morning, at the highest energies ever. The LHC has been colliding ...

New gene map reveals cancer's Achilles heel

November 25, 2015

Scientists have mapped out the genes that keep our cells alive, creating a long-awaited foothold for understanding how our genome works and which genes are crucial in disease like cancer.

A blue, neptune-size exoplanet around a red dwarf star

November 25, 2015

A team of astronomers have used the LCOGT network to detect light scattered by tiny particles (called Rayleigh scattering), through the atmosphere of a Neptune-size transiting exoplanet. This suggests a blue sky on this world ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.