According to this study, researchers have revealed incredible images of how the DNA code is read and interpreted revealing new detail about one of the fundamental processes of life. They used an advanced form of electron microscopy called Cryo-EM, for which the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded in 2017, to zoom in and capture images of the reading mechanism in extraordinary concept. The study published in the journal Nature could open new approaches to cancer treatment.
The mechanism for reading DNA and decoding it to build proteins for their needs is common to all animals and plants, and is often hijacked by cancer. The discovery of exactly how the molecular mechanism works. Scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, captured images of molecular machinery called RNA Polymerase III in the act of transcribing a gene in exquisite and unprecedented detail.
RNA polymerase III is crucial to life for all eukaryotic cells including all animals and plants. In cancer, it is more active, causing cells to produce larger numbers of the building blocks they need to grow and multiply. It allowed researchers to see for the first time how components of the RNA polymerase III complex and accessory molecules interact and communicate with each other, suggesting how drugs might be employed to split the complex up.
The new study captured the molecular machinery in the act of binding to DNA, separating the two strands and getting ready to transcribe the DNA code. Cryo-EM involves freezing and imaging samples at -180°C to preserve minute details of protein shapes. This type of microscopy is also an emerging and exciting approach in cancer drug design.
The researchers looked at the molecular mechanism in yeast cells, but the same machinery is used in humans. The complex reads the DNA code and makes material known as transfer RNA, an essential part of producing the protein building blocks needed to allow cells to grow or to make new cells.
Cancer cells need large numbers of these protein building blocks as they rapidly grow and divide, so they can become particularly reliant on components of the RNA polymerase III complex. Paul Workman said, "Cryo-EM is revolutionising molecular and cellular biology, allowing us to look in minute detail at molecular machines within cells and how they work.
The technique is helping scientists to discover weaknesses in cancer cells that could be targeted by the next generation of drugs. Study concludes, a new advancement in DNA decoding will further our understanding of disease, potentially leading to vital lifesaving treatment, including new ways to tackle cancer.
The recently published Life Sciences Sector Deal, through our Industrial Strategy, will pave the way for more investment in innovative new treatments and technologies that will not only improve patient lives, but also drive economic growth making Britain fit for the future.