It slices, it dices, and it protects the body from harm: 3-D structure of enzyme that helps defend against bacteria

It slices, it dices, and it protects the body from harm: 3-D structure of enzyme that helps defend against bacteria

An essential weapon in the body’s fight against infection has come into sharper view. Researchers have discovered the 3-D structure of an enzyme that cuts to ribbons the genetic material of viruses and helps defend against bacteria. The discovery of the structure of this enzyme, a first-responder in the body’s “innate immune system,” could enable new strategies for fighting infectious agents and possibly prostate cancer and obesity. “This work illustrates the wonderful usefulness of doing both crystallography and careful kinetic and enzymatic studies at the same time,” said one scientist.

via Top Health News — ScienceDaily:

An essential weapon in the body’s fight against infection has come into sharper view. Researchers at Princeton University have discovered the 3D structure of an enzyme that cuts to ribbons the genetic material of viruses and helps defend against bacteria.The discovery of the structure of this enzyme, a first-responder in the body’s “innate immune system,” could enable new strategies for fighting infectious agents and possibly prostate cancer and obesity. The work was published Feb. 27 in the journal Science.Until now, the research community has lacked a structural model of the human form of this enzyme, known as RNase L, said Alexei Korennykh, an assistant professor of molecular biology and leader of the team that made the discovery.”Now that we have the human RNase L structure, we can begin to understand the effects of carcinogenic mutations in the RNase L gene. For example, families with hereditary prostate cancers often carry genetic mutations in the region, or locus, encoding RNase L,” Korennykh said. The connection is so strong that the RNase L locus also goes by the name “hereditary prostate cancer 1.” The newly found structure reveals the positions of these mutations and explains why some of these mutations could be detrimental, perhaps leading to cancer, Korennykh said. RNase L is also essential for insulin function and has been implicated in obesity.The Princeton team’s work has also led to new insights on the enzyme’s function.The enzyme is an important player in the innate immune system, a rapid and broad response to invaders that includes the production of a molecule called interferon. Interferon relays distress signals from infected cells to neighboring healthy cells, thereby activating RNase L to turn on its ability to slice through RNA, a type of genetic material that is similar to DNA. The result is new cells armed for destruction of the foreign RNA.The 3D structure uncovered by Korennykh and his team consists of two nearly identical subunits called protomers. The researchers found that one protomer finds and attaches to the RNA, while the other protomer snips it.The initial protomer latches onto one of the four “letters” that make up the RNA code, in particular, the “U,” which stands for a component of RNA called uridine. …

For more info: It slices, it dices, and it protects the body from harm: 3-D structure of enzyme that helps defend against bacteria

Top Health News — ScienceDaily

It slices, it dices, and it protects the body from harm: 3-D structure of enzyme that helps defend against bacteria

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