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Fly study finds two new drivers of RNA editing

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Posted August 1, 2013
RNA of the fruit fly para gene includes an arm-like structure jutting from the bottom that ends in a ring-shaped "pseudoknot" of nucleotides. The structure gives the RNA editing enzyme dADAR a new place to connect, producing an alternate way of editing nucleotides (in red). Credit: Robert Reenan/Brown University

RNA of the fruit fly para gene includes an arm-like structure jutting from the bottom that ends in a ring-shaped “pseudoknot” of nucleotides. The structure gives the RNA editing enzyme dADAR a new place to connect, producing an alternate way of editing nucleotides (in red). Credit: Robert Reenan/Brown University

RNA editing gives organisms a way to adapt the instructions that their DNA provides for making proteins. Few people would have described RNA editing as a simple process, but a new paper in Nature Communications demonstrates the process as more complex and difficult to predict than previously assumed. The study, done in living fruit flies, discovered two new mechanisms that govern editing in a key neurodevelopmental gene.

RNA editing is governed not only by sequences of RNA nucleotides (the letters A, C, G, and U) and corresponding structures near to the editing sites in the RNA molecule, as biologists had already suspected, but also by these newly described sequences and structures that are quite far away.

With new mechanisms also come new opportunities to influence RNA editing perhaps to combat disease, the Brown University researchers and their collaborators note.

Working in the model fruit fly gene para, which encodes expression of sodium channels in neurons, the biologists found two important sequences that give rise to these editing-altering mechanisms. Both exist in introns, which are sections genetic code that do not contain the actual instructions for making protein, but appear instead to have information about what to do with those instructions.

Read more at: Phys.org

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