Story 2015-01-02 2WMD Scientists discover the first protein that can edit other proteins

Scientists discover the first protein that can edit other proteins

in science on (#2WMD)
story imageThe most important job inside any cell is making proteins, and they are all made using instructions from DNA. This process is practically gospel in the field of molecular biology, but new research identifies some exceptions. Some proteins, it turns out, can make other proteins.

This isn't a case of a protein going rogue. It seems to be part of the recycling process that occurs when there's a mistake in a protein being built. When an error is introduced, the ribosomes stall and call in a group of quality control proteins, including Rqc2. In observing this process, the researchers saw how Rqc2 links up with the transfer RNA and tells it to insert a random sequence of two amino acids into the chain (out of 20 total amino acids).

The researchers believe that Rqc2's seemingly aberrant behavior might be an integral part of keeping your body free of faulty proteins. It's possible that it is flagging the protein for destruction, or that the string of amino acids could be a test to see if the ribosome is working properly. People with disorders like Alzheimers and Huntingtons diseases have defective quality control processes for their proteins. Understanding the exact conditions where Rqc2 is triggered, and where it fails to trigger, are the next step in this research, and could be important for developing new treatments for neurodegenerative diseases.
Reply 5 comments

Maybe I'm a pedant (Score: 1)

by on 2015-01-02 15:24 (#2WME)

I think that the use of can is a bit wrong here, I'd put it as "is used to edit", can seems to imply that it has a choice, or prefers to edit other proteins instead of building up muscles, or causing holes to form in your cerebral tissues.

Yeah, no maybe about it.

Re: Maybe I'm a pedant (Score: 1)

by on 2015-01-02 15:54 (#2WMH)

If you're going to complain about wording, you should go to the source.

The word "can" merely specifies the ability. It says nothing, one way or the other, about choice, so I don't know why you would read the word as involving decision-making.

Your preferred wording might instead be read to imply other proteins were known to have the (latent) capability, but perhaps this was just the first observed performing the function.

Thank you pipedot (Score: 3, Interesting)

by on 2015-01-03 04:06 (#2WN2)

I'm sorry I can't offer much in the way of cogent discussion on this topic, but I love reading it. Pipedot is far and away superior to its competitors both technically and in terms of content.

Re: Thank you pipedot (Score: 3, Informative)

by on 2015-01-04 02:53 (#2WNA)

Submissions are always welcome. It's just Zafiro and myself finding and writing-up most of the content that hits the front page. When both of us are busy, as we have been (hence the past couple very quiet weeks), the site sits idle until we find some free time.

It's easy enough to approve or reject submissions on my phone when I have just a few minutes to spare, but not nearly so quick and easy to find interesting stories, and write-up a good summary of them, myself, while occupied with other tasks.

Somebody has to come up with the interesting content. I had never submitted anything to the old site, but I figured it out pretty quick once I gave it a try. With a bit of practice anyone can do it, and everyone is welcome to chip-in and try their hand at it. Something to keep in mind while waiting around to see when the next story is going to show-up...

Are we just self correcting machines (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2015-01-04 07:40 (#2WNB)

Is there such a thing as Life. Are we only here to (re)produce more machines. Is there an end to all this, a purpose. Do I exist. Why. How. Mew.