News from CEXS-UPF
The Molecular Virology group headed by Juana Díez in collaboration with Pilar Navarro (IMIM), Sebastian Leidel (Max Planck Institute, Germany) and Markus Bonnshack (Institute for Molecular Biology, Germany) has identified a novel mechanism by which the cell regulates gene expression of membrane proteins.
Díez and collaborators have uncovered a novel and highly conserved mechanism by which the cell regulates gene expression. In a previous work, they demonstrated that multiple viruses of clinical importance depend on the host Dhh1/DDX6 helicase to activate translation of viral mRNAs and express the viral proteins. Intriguingly, Dhh1 functions in the cell as a translation repressor of cellular mRNAs. How the same protein was exerting opposite functions in viral and cellular mRNAs remained a mystery. By combining molecular biology, cellular biology and -omics approaches, they have demonstrated that Dhh1 activates translation not only of viral mRNAs but also of a specific set on cellular mRNAs with whom they share common features. They all contain long and highly structured coding regions and encode membrane proteins.
The work initially started in yeast was extended to human pancreatic cells. They have shown that helicase Dhh1/DDX6 is overexpressed in human pancreatic cancer and controls the translation of a membrane protein conserved from yeast to humans which deregulation is a hallmark of pancreatic cancer.
Reference work: Jennifer Jungfleisch, Danny D. Nedialkova, Ivan Dotu, Katherine E. Sloan, Neus Martinez-Bosch, Lukas Brüning, Emanuele Raineri, Pilar Navarro, Markus T. Bohnsack, Sebastian A. Leidel, Juana Díez. A novel translational control mechanism involving RNA structures 1 within coding sequences. November, 2016. doi:10.1101/gr.209015.116 Genome Research
Image: Pancreatic cancer cells completing cell division. Every year about 8,800 Britons die from the disease. Photograph: Getty Images/Visuals Unlimited