Scientists find gene sequences that stall protein synthesis

Mar 01, 2013
BYU scientists find gene sequences that stall protein synthesis

(Phys.org)—Machines don't always run smoothly – phone calls drop, computers crash and cars stall.

A new Brigham Young University study shows the same kinds of problems happen to the within our cells.

Known as ribosomes, these machines crank out the proteins that do nearly everything cells need to survive: Move things around, speed up chemical reactions to get energy from food, even make and copy DNA.

With all that ribosomes do right, it's only now coming to light how much can go wrong. As BYU biochemists report this month in the , these are just as prone to failure as man-made machines.

"Biologists tend to think of the ribosome as capable of making anything," said BYU professor and study author Allen Buskirk. "They think that ribosomes don't care what sequence you give them – that they just make whatever you tell them to make. And that's not true."

Even in a simple bacterial cell, there are thousands of different proteins, each made up of linked together end to end. Ribosomes have to build all these proteins accurately and quickly, using information copied off of DNA as to determine which amino acid goes where.

Buskirk and his students found a variety of that cause ribosomes to move in fits and starts or completely stall. Some of it may be strategic – buying time for the protein to fold properly as it comes off the ribosome, or regulating the expression of nearby genes in response to changing conditions in the cell.

In other cases, however, it seems more like a bug in the system. Buskirk and his co-authors explain in the new study how cells recover from those setbacks with systems that alleviate stalling or rescue stalled ribosomes.

Explore further: Report on viruses looks beyond disease

More information: www.pnas.org/content/early/201… /1219536110.abstract

Related Stories

Study shows stressed-out cells halt protein synthesis

Jan 09, 2013

(Phys.org)—Cells experience stress in multiple ways. Temperature shifts, mis-folded proteins and oxidative damage can all cause cellular stress. But whatever the form of the stress, all cells quickly stop ...

Raising the blockade

Dec 14, 2012

At crucial points in the metabolism of all organisms, a protein with the unwieldy name of Translation Elongation Factor P (EF-P, for short) takes center stage. What it actually does during protein synthesis has only now been ...

Superbugs may have a soft spot, after all

Feb 26, 2013

The overuse of antibiotics has created strains of bacteria resistant to medication, making the diseases they cause difficult to treat, or even deadly. But now a research team at the University of Rochester has identified ...

Scientist uncovers switch controlling protein production

Dec 22, 2010

A scientist from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute has discovered a molecular switch that controls the synthesis of ribosomes. Ribosomes are the large machineries inside all living cells that produce proteins, ...

Recommended for you

Brand new technology detects probiotic organisms in food

5 hours ago

In the food industr, ity is very important to ensure the quality and safety of products consumed by the population to improve their properties and reduce foodborne illness. Therefore, a team of Mexican researchers ...

Protein evolution follows a modular principle

5 hours ago

Proteins impart shape and stability to cells, drive metabolic processes and transmit signals. To perform these manifold tasks, they fold into complex three-dimensional shapes. Scientists at the Max Planck ...

Report on viruses looks beyond disease

Jul 22, 2014

In contrast to their negative reputation as disease causing agents, some viruses can perform crucial biological and evolutionary functions that help to shape the world we live in today, according to a new report by the American ...

User comments : 0