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The skilled tailor that coordinates the "snip and stitch" of genetic information

New research by SISSA and CNR sheds light on the functioning of the spliceosome

A sophisticated atomic-level computer simulation has allowed researchers from SISSA and the National Research Centre (CNR-IOM - Institute for Materials Manufacturing) to shed light, for the first time, on the function of an important biological system called spliceosome, which works as a highly skilled tailor. The spliceosome is composed of 5 filaments of RNA and hundreds of proteins.

Among these elements, the researchers have discovered that, in yeast, the Spp42 protein (corresponding to the human Prp8) coordinates the motion of different components which all together handle their tailoring tools to complete a minute cutting and sewing process. Thanks to this activity, the genetic information can be correctly transformed into a product of perfect manufacture and function, like proteins. This is a very delicate cellular process, whose defect is the underlying cause of more than 200 human diseases, including several types of cancer. Understanding the functioning of the spliceosome components may be of fundamental importance for treating several human diseases, for example for the development of new drugs able to regulate and modulate the activity of these “molecular tailors”. The research has just been published in PNAS journal.