Sumary of Prions may channel RNA’s messages:
- Prions get mostly bad press, but they may be the keys to controlling protein synthesis in cells.
- Prions, proteins that can misfold and aggregate, have been implicated in many neurodegenerative diseases.
- New models by Rice University scientists describe how they can regulate the translation of RNA messages into new proteins by forming organized protein synthesis factories.
- A study led by theoretical physicist Peter Wolynes and graduate student Xinyu Gu, with aid from Rice alumnus Nicholas Schafer, suggests that two prions in either aggregate or condensate form can activate or repress the translation of actin proteins, depending on the orientation in which they bind mRNA.
- The lab modeled “protein assembly lines” centered on CPEB and Rim4, two examples of the 240 known prion-coding genes that are also known to bind RNA in eukaryotic cells.
- Their orientation affects how — and whether — ribosomes are able to be recycled during protein synthesis when the RNA is assembled on the prion.
- ” Briefly, CPEB proteins aggregate into prions that bind the 3′ (aka 3 prime) terminal of mRNA.
- Ribosomes, the molecular machines that decode RNA to assemble proteins, easily find the other end (the “start codon”) and then work their way in toward the “stop codon,” which is bound to the prion.