New components of machinery that carries genetic information from nucleus

DURHAM, N.C. -- Researchers have reported discovering the first elements of what is apparently a molecular signaling pathway important for regulating how genetic information leaves the nucleus to begin its working life as a blueprint for the cell.

According to the scientists, their finding represents an intriguing new role for a signaling molecule, derived from inositol, in the cell.

In an article in the July 2 Science, Duke University Medical Center pharmacologist John York and his colleagues reported studies in yeast that revealed the presence of enzymes called kinases ? enzymes that add phosphates to inositol to make them into signals that trigger the export of messenger RNA from the cell nucleus.

Messenger RNA (mRNA) is the molecule that, when copied from DNA genes in the nucleus, carries genetic information into the cell where it is used to build proteins.

Co-authors on the article are Audrey Odom, also of Duke, and Robert Murphy, Eric Ives and Susan Wente of Washington University School of Medicine. York is an assistant professor of pharmacology and cancer biology, and of biochemistry. Odom is a graduate student in the Medical Scientist Training Program. The research was sponsored by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, the National Institutes of Health and the American Cancer Society.

While York emphasizes that the discovery is very basic in nature, and was made using yeast, such fundamental knowledge invariably contributes to understanding and treatment of human disease, he said. Particularly important, he emphasized, is that inositol signaling is critical to the machinery of living cells, and many of its components are conserved all the way from yeast to humans.

Inositols had already been suspected of being major signaling molecules in the cell, because some 20 different inositols had been discovered with varying numbers and arrangements of phosphates attached, like a multitude of

Contact: Dennis Meredith
Duke University

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