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Scientists determine structure of key factor in RNA quality control


Science Daily reports:

In biology, getting rid of stuff can be just as important as making it. A buildup of cells, proteins, or other molecules that are no longer needed can cause problems, so living things have evolved several ways to clean house.

A prime example is the RNA exosome. RNA molecules perform many roles in cells. Some of them are translated into proteins; others form a cell’s protein-building machinery. The RNA exosome is a cellular machine that degrades RNA molecules that are faulty, harmful, or no longer needed. Without this microscopic Marie Kondo to prune what doesn’t spark joy, our cells would become dysfunctional hoarders, unable to function.

“RNA surveillance and degradation pathways exist in all forms of life,” explains Christopher Lima, Chair of the Structural Biology Program in the Sloan Kettering Institute. “From bacteria to humans, all living things have mechanisms to monitor the quality of RNA and to purposely degrade it.”

For a long time, Dr. Lima says, these pathways were considered, like housework, kind of boring. But it turns out that these degradation pathways are highly regulated and control everything from embryonic development to the progression of the cell cycle.

What’s more, errors in these pathways can lead to many types of disease, from cancer to neurodegeneration.

Notice the descriptions consistent with intelligent design that seem unavoidable in this report.

RNA Degradation and Disease

There are big stakes involved. An indication of just how important RNA degradation is comes from the long list of diseases that result from defective or poorly controlled degradation. Perhaps the most famous example is cystic fibrosis. In this case, the messenger RNA encoding a protein that shuttles ions across cell membranes is degraded by RNA decay pathways. As a result, the protein is not present in mucous membranes of the lungs, which leads to a buildup of mucus there and results in severely impaired breathing.

“It’s a famous example of RNA quality control with bad results.”

“The reality is if you have defective RNA quality-control pathways, your ribosomes don’t work, your transfer RNAs don’t work, your spliceosomes don’t work.” The list goes on and on. 

We're headed in the direction of seeing RNA as the "director" of cellular processes, with DNA simply supplying resources to both the "director" and to the "processes." The central dogma that DNA is the determiner of life will soon become hotly contested. These kinds of discovery will hasten the advent of this contest. PaV

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