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Scientists Discover Mysterious Enzyme At The Heart Of Cancer And Other Diseases

Update Date: Jan 04, 2016 11:27 AM EST

When there is faulty gene expression, it leads to genetic diseases as well as cancer. Gene expression is monitored by many factors such as micro-RNAs (mRNAs) and primary-mRNAs (p-mRNAs).

"In the nucleus of every cell, mRNAs are recognized by the Microprocessor complex, which is an enzyme made up of a DROSHA protein and two DGCR8 proteins," according to HNGN.

Even though it is very important, there is little understanding of the structures of its proteins. Scientists from the Institute for Basic Science .do have got the three-dimensional crystal structure of DROSHA so that they can further become aware of the enigmatic Microprocessor complex.

DROSHA displays two DGCR8-binding sites and a unique "bump" in the structure, which reveals how the Microprocessor is composed.

The team also determined how DROSHA and DGCR8 interact, determining how the p-mRNA is cut and processed in the nucleus.

There is a lot of data on DROSHA's structure, which can help us to understand mRNA biogenesis and how these factors can "malfunction" so that genetic diseases such as cancer are initiated. This will, in turn, help scientists to regulate gene expression and avert the growth of tumors.

"In the future, we are planning to solve the structure of pri-miRNA-bound Microprocessor complex," Sung Chul Kwon, who participated in the research, said in a press release.

The findings were published in the Dec.28,2015 issue of Cell.  

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