JUL 12, 2016 11:14 AM PDT

The Human Splicesome Through the Lense of Group II Introns

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker
Introns and exons are the snippets of genetic information that must be altered before messenger RNA (mRNA) can continue its journey toward making a protein. Scientists thought they knew how the process worked, but a new study’s findings shows that the process, called splicing, does not unfold as scientists previously believed.
Ribozyme in 3-D
A complex of proteins and RNA called the splicesome is responsible for splicing in humans: removing non-coding introns and linking exon coding sequences together. The new study, from the International School of Advanced Studies (ISSA), used computer simulations to once and for all nail down the true pathway of gene splicing in humans. However, instead of studying the human splicesome, the researchers looked at group II intron ribozymes.

Contrary to popular belief, ribozymes work in a different yet equally precise way as protein enzymes. Scientists previously thought that like protein enzymes, ribozymes used very specific methods while active. However, the current study separated the two as unique by associating protein enzymes’ precision with richness of amino acids and ribozymes with an adaption to the RNA that initially formed them.

Group II intron ribozymes are uniquely able to initiate and complete their own splicing, yet they are both structurally and catalytically similar to the human spliceosome, making them the perfect subject for studying gene splicing. With the help of a few magnesium ions, group II intron ribozymes “self-splice” and self-regulate the removal of introns from mRNA, leaving the genetic material primed for later being turned into a protein. 

The findings from this study provide a clear first-glance into how the human spliceosome truly works through the transparent lense of the group II intron ribozymes. “Aberrant splicing in humans may lead to various complex diseases and also underlies the development of some forms of cancer and the onset of neurodegenerative diseases,” said Alessandra Magistrato, coordinator of the study, mentioning a few of the reasons for why the study is so important. “A better understanding of the [splicing] process can add important information for our fight against these diseases. 

This study was recently published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
 


Sources: SISSA, Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Biology
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
OCT 22, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
How a Gene Variant Raises the Risk of Multiple Sclerosis
OCT 22, 2020
How a Gene Variant Raises the Risk of Multiple Sclerosis
Now that sequencing the whole human genome is easier, faster, and cheaper than it used to be, scientists have been able ...
NOV 30, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
Green Genetic Technology Can Help Feed the World
NOV 30, 2020
Green Genetic Technology Can Help Feed the World
In the latter half of the last century, agriculture underwent a technological revolution that enabled farmers to create ...
DEC 10, 2020
Cardiology
CircRNAs as Prognostic Indicators for Atrial Fibrillation
DEC 10, 2020
CircRNAs as Prognostic Indicators for Atrial Fibrillation
The use of genetics in therapies and diagnostics has boomed over the decades. While many of these breakthroughs focus on ...
DEC 17, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
Using Tomatoes to Produce a Parkinson's Drug
DEC 17, 2020
Using Tomatoes to Produce a Parkinson's Drug
More and more people are being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease as the world's population ages. Scientists have now en ...
JAN 03, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
Exploiting Genetic Vulnerabilities in Cancer Cells
JAN 03, 2021
Exploiting Genetic Vulnerabilities in Cancer Cells
Genetic errors can drive cancer, often when critical genes like those that control cell division and proliferation becom ...
JAN 10, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
Did Sleep Precede the Brain?
JAN 10, 2021
Did Sleep Precede the Brain?
The longer we stay awake without sleeping, the more difficult it can become to think straight. But our functioning is re ...
Loading Comments...