Tuesday 6 January 2015

Scientists discover a protein that quality controls other proteins

The proteins made in any cell are built using instructions from DNA. New research however, has
found some exceptions to this fundamental rule.

The building blocks used to make proteins are much smaller molecules known as amino acids. They
are assembled from what are in effect 'blueprints' encoded into DNA, inside cellular structures
called ribosomes. There all a vast array of proteins which can be used for anything from hair
building to organ building or any of the cells within the body.

Another large molecule known as messenger RNA carries the information from the DNA to the
ribosomes, where the magic is performed.

In the newly discovered method another protein, known as RqC2  (no not R2D2) does the job of
the messenger RNA. And it seems to function when there has been a mistake in the normal
process, and the protein is slightly wrong. Somehow the ribosomes know this and send for the
RqC2 and other proteins, to rectify the situation. It does this by getting the transfer RNA to
insert two amino acids at random points in the protein chain.

This may be a way of telling the process that this protein is wrong and should be sent for
destruction, or at least recycling.

It is hoped that as this process is understood more, it may lead to new ways for treating
diseases such as Alzheimer's which is thought to be caused by faulty proteins in the brain.

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