JAN 26, 2016 9:48 AM PST

The Harmony of Transcription and Translation

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker
In order for the body to produce proteins to perform countless functions for daily maintenance, messenger RNA (mRNA) must be transcribed from the genetic information contained in DNA, and then the information from mRNA must be translated into a chain of amino acids. Transcription and translation are studied by biology students all over the world, and scientists are now realizing that the two processes are regulated differently and more complexly than previously thought.

New York University biologist Christine Vogel, PhD, likens the “highly regulated and coupled” processes of mRNA and protein production from the genetic information in DNA to someone walking up a moving escalator. Which movement is more important, the escalator mechanism or the person walking? In her recent paper published in Molecular Systems Biology, Vogel provides evidence for both types of actions being equally as important in the context of protein production.

By observing protein and transcriptional changes in mammalian cells in response to stress brought on by dithiothreitol (DTT), an antioxidant molecule used to stabilize enzymes and other proteins, Vogel and her team were able to observe differences in pattern over time between the two processes’ responses to outside stimuli (Promega).

Results from the study showed the DNA to mRNA transcription is a “pulse-like” process, whereas RNA to protein is more like an “on/off switch.”

"It is very costly for the cell to make proteins, but making RNA messages from DNA is a relatively low-energy and simple process, so it makes sense that we see frequent, or pulsating, signaling at this stage," Vogel said.

Protein production, on the other hand, is an “intricate undertaking,” which requires a steady stream of supply of energy and other resources. Vogel’s study shows that the difference in complexity between transcription and translation explains why one process is regulated more definitively, with a clear on and off state, and the other can transition between on and off more fluidly.

“Once you decided to stop production of proteins, you do not turn it back on that easily, and the other way around,” Vogel said.

The implications of these new findings are many. Learning more about genetic regulation could lead to gaining insight into the nature of genetic mutation genesis, improving gene therapy, and other aspects of genetics applicable to health and medicine.
 

Source: New York University
 
About the Author
I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
You May Also Like
AUG 22, 2022
Cell & Molecular Biology
DNA Binding Proteins Both Search & Bind Rapidly
AUG 22, 2022
DNA Binding Proteins Both Search & Bind Rapidly
Many different proteins can bind DNA, and they perform a variety of critical functions in cells. DNA-binding proteins of ...
SEP 01, 2022
Cell & Molecular Biology
Craspase - A CRISPR System That Cuts Proteins
SEP 01, 2022
Craspase - A CRISPR System That Cuts Proteins
The CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing system has revolutionized biomedical research, and has now even been used in the clinic is ...
SEP 05, 2022
Cell & Molecular Biology
Making Genetic Engineering at the Chromosome Level Possible
SEP 05, 2022
Making Genetic Engineering at the Chromosome Level Possible
An image by Wang Qiang shows a mouse that carries two chromosomes fused together, the first engineered karyotype in mice ...
SEP 28, 2022
Genetics & Genomics
Microprotein Mutations May Significantly Increase Alzheimer's Risk
SEP 28, 2022
Microprotein Mutations May Significantly Increase Alzheimer's Risk
The mitochondrion, commonly called the powerhouse of the cell, might be one of the best known organelles. This special o ...
SEP 28, 2022
Microbiology
Humans and Our Gut Microbes Evolved Together
SEP 28, 2022
Humans and Our Gut Microbes Evolved Together
We each carry thousands of different species of microorganisms in our gastrointestinal tracts, and that gut microbiome h ...
OCT 02, 2022
Immunology
A Network Linking Aging, Inflammation, and Diet
OCT 02, 2022
A Network Linking Aging, Inflammation, and Diet
Our immune system is crucial to our health. It has to respond to pathogens and tissue damage quickly by initiating infla ...
Loading Comments...