More than a protein factory: A role for ribosomes in regulating human gene expression

phys.org | 2/5/2019 | Staff
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Researchers from the Stowers Institute for Medical Research have discovered a new function of ribosomes in human cells that may show the protein-making particle's role in destroying healthy mRNAs, the messages that decode DNA into protein.

"For a long time, many people have viewed ribosomes as a passive player in the cell—a molecular machine that's just producing proteins," says Stowers Assistant Investigator Ariel Bazzini, Ph.D. "Now there's growing evidence that ribosomes regulate gene expression, including in human cells."

Findings - Online - ELife - MRNA - Role

These findings, which were recently published online in eLife, could lead to further understanding mRNA's role and the causes of gene misregulation in human diseases.

In the process of translation, ribosomes make proteins by serving as the site for the biological synthesis of them. Specifically, a ribosome reads codons—sets of three consecutive nucleotides—in an mRNA message to determine which amino acids to add to the growing protein chain. As part of this process, ribosomes also act as quality control, triggering the destruction of improperly made mRNA.

Body - Evidence - Ribosomes - Role - Stability

A growing body of evidence has shown ribosomes also play a role in affecting the stability (life) of properly processed mRNAs, thereby acting as a key factor in modulating mRNA stability, level of mRNA, and protein production. This had been shown in organisms such as yeast, E. coli, and zebrafish. In this study, researchers showed that ribosomes affect mRNA stability in human cell lines as well.

"We're seeing that the amount of gene expression is a combination of mRNA production (transcription) and stability," Bazzini says. "Think of a glass of water. To get an idea of how much water the glass holds at any particular time, it's important to know how much water you initially pour into the glass but also important to know how much water you drink. The same is true with...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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