Cell biology

How a cell protects itself

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structure of an animal cell/royroydeb (CC BY-SA 4.0)

From ScienceDaily: Why do cell nuclei export machinery that cannot be used?

The cell contains transcripts of the genetic material, which migrate from the cell nucleus to another part of the cell. This movement protects the genetic transcripts from the recruitment of ‘spliceosomes’. If this protection does not happen, the entire cell is in danger: meaning that cancer and neurodegenerative diseases can develop. Researchers have demonstrated the underlying mechanism in the cell. …

In other organisms, such as baker’s yeast, which is often used as a model organism in research, scientists had thought that the snRNA of the spliceosomes never left the cell nucleus. The reason for the evolutionary development to export snRNA before incorporation into the spliceosomes of human cells was also a mystery.

“Our experiments show that in fact the snRNA of the spliceosomes also migrates into the cytoplasm in yeast,” said Professor Heike Krebber, Head of the Department of Molecular Genetics at the Institute for Microbiology and Genetics at the University of Göttingen. In a second step, the researchers answered the question as to why the messenger RNA of the spliceosomes actually moves into the cytoplasm. It was unclear because the spliceosomes’ task is to cut out individual RNA regions and this takes place back in the cell nucleus. The team of researchers manipulated the yeast by genetic experiments so that the precursors of snRNA no longer changed in the cytoplasm. The observation: “The spliceosomes attempt to work with the precursors, the unfinished snRNA, and this cannot function as it’s supposed to,” said Krebber. “This is the reason that healthy cells must first send the precursors of messenger RNA out of the cell nucleus immediately after their production: it is to prevent them from being used by the developing spliceosomes. This basic understanding is important in order to identify the underlying cause of the development of diseases. Paper. (open access) – Daniel Becker, Anna Greta Hirsch, Lysann Bender, Thomas Lingner, Gabriela Salinas, Heike Krebber. Nuclear Pre-snRNA Export Is an Essential Quality Assurance Mechanism for Functional Spliceosomes. Cell Reports, 2019; 27 (11): 3199 DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2019.05.031 More.

It sounds like a scheme. But the big question isn’t how cells protect themselves by very complex mechanisms but why? Boulders don’t seek to avoid becoming sand. Something is different about life that mechanical explanations do not address.

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3 Replies to “How a cell protects itself

  1. 1
    OLV says:

    Interesting article. Thanks

  2. 2
    OLV says:

    Given the messy human history and the fact that there are so many things that can go wrong in the complex functionality of the functional complexity in the biological systems, it’s amazing that they work. That’s robustness on steroids. Interesting that all that came to be through a long and winding road of random variations and natural selection. 😉

  3. 3
    OLV says:

    Nuclear Pre-snRNA Export Is an Essential Quality Assurance Mechanism for Functional Spliceosomes
    Daniel Becker, Anna Greta Hirsch, Lysann Bender, Thomas Lingner, Gabriela Salinas, Heike Krebber. Cell Reports, 2019; 27 (11): 3199
    DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2019.05.031

    How could the functional spliceosomes have evolved?

    How could the mentioned quality assurance mechanism have evolved?

    Note that the questions are not “how did that evolve?” but “how could that have evolved?”. The former question would require knowing how things really happened, but the latter format asks about possible comprehensive coherent scientific explanations that make physicochemical sense.

    Perhaps some of the active objectors here would like to elaborate on this?

    I won’t hold my breadth while waiting for it to happen though. 🙂

    They seem to lack what it takes to engage in serious scientific chats. But they could surprise us. 🙂

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