Scientists achieve first rewire of genetic switches

January 25, 2010, University of Manchester

Researchers in Manchester have successfully carried out the first rewire of genetic switches, creating what could be a vital tool for the development of new drugs and even future gene therapies.

A team of scientists from the School of Chemistry and the Manchester Interdisciplinary Biocentre (MIB) at The University of Manchester have found a way of hijacking so-called 'riboswitches' and directing .

Working within of bacteria, chemical biologist Professor Jason Micklefield and his team have rewired these genetic switches so they are no longer activated by small naturally occurring molecules found in cells - but through the addition of a synthetic molecule.

The work builds on the recent discovery that these naturally occurring molecules can turn genes on and off by triggering riboswitches found within a large molecule called 'messenger RNA'.

The research was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and Selective Chemical Intervention in Biological Systems Initiative.

In the latest research, when Manchester researchers added , they bound to the riboswitches and caused the genes to spark into life.

The findings are reported in the latest edition of (PNAS).

The Manchester team monitored how successfully they had re-wired the cells by observing the creation of a gene product that makes the cells glow green.

Dr Neil Dixon, a senior researcher in the team, said: "Being able to selectively activate and regulate genes could have tremendous impact in and the emerging field of synthetic biology.

"This technology could be used to turn on and off important biological pathways and processes, leading to a deeper understanding of how cells function.

"The next big challenge is to apply this technology to study biological processes within human cells. This could allow us to discover more about our hugely complex biological selves."

The Manchester team is now working on ways to simultaneously activate and control multiple using these re-wired riboswitches.

More information: "Reengineering orthogonally selective riboswitches" will be published online in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) during the week beginning 25 January 2010.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

DNA gets away: Scientists catch the rogue molecule that can trigger autoimmunity

February 22, 2018
A research team has discovered the process - and filmed the actual moment - that can change the body's response to a dying cell. Importantly, what they call the 'Great Escape' moment may one day prove to be the crucial trigger ...

Low-calorie diet enhances intestinal regeneration after injury

February 22, 2018
Dramatic calorie restriction, diets reduced by 40 percent of a normal calorie total, have long been known to extend health span, the duration of disease-free aging, in animal studies, and even to extend life span in most ...

Artificial intelligence quickly and accurately diagnoses eye diseases and pneumonia

February 22, 2018
Using artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques, researchers at Shiley Eye Institute at UC San Diego Health and University of California San Diego School of Medicine, with colleagues in China, Germany and Texas, ...

Gut microbes protect against sepsis—mouse study

February 22, 2018
Sepsis occurs when the body's response to the spread of bacteria or toxins to the bloodstream damages tissues and organs. The fight against sepsis could get a helping hand from a surprising source: gut bacteria. Researchers ...

Fertility breakthrough: New research could extend egg health with age

February 22, 2018
Women have been told for years that if they don't have children before their mid-30s, they may not be able to. But a new study from Princeton University's Coleen Murphy has identified a drug that extends egg viability in ...

Breakthrough could lead to better drugs to tackle diabetes and obesity

February 22, 2018
Breakthrough research at Monash University has shown how different areas of major diabetes and obesity drug targets can be 'activated', guiding future drug development and better treatment of diseases.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.