Protein Complex Movement May Regulate Cell Division, Impacting Disease Research

Scientists at Umeå University in Sweden have found that the movement of a unique protein complex known as the Mediator along DNA genes may affect the process of cell division. The finding might be significant for upcoming studies on the management of particular illnesses.

We have gained in-depth knowledge of how cell division is controlled, which is important for understanding the causes of various diseases that are due to errors in cell division, such as various tumor diseases.”

Stefan Björklund, Professor and Study Lead Author, Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics, Umeå University

The ribosome is a complex molecular machine found in every living cell that is crucial for synthesizing proteins. It creates proteins using DNA as a template, which are essential for almost all cellular functions. But first, through a process known as transcription, the cells must duplicate the instructions into mRNA.

The Umeå University research team has found that the production of proteins that comprise ribosomes can be regulated by the Mediator, a protein complex in the cell nucleus, which can bind to DNA and interact with Lsm1-7, another protein complex.

According to the study, cell division slows down in situations where cells grow too densely. In response, the mediator travels to the terminus of the genes, where it engages in interaction with Lsm1–7.

This slows down the rate at which genes are read and obstructs the maturation of messenger RNA. This ultimately results in a slower rate of cell division due to a decrease in ribosomal protein synthesis.

Investigating whether the mediator’s position can be altered to impede rapid cell division, such as that seen in tumors, could be one avenue for future research.

We are still early in the research in the field, so more studies are needed before we can say that this is a viable path, but it is an exciting opportunity.”

Stefan Björklund, Professor and Study Lead Author, Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics, Umeå University

The research has been carried out in yeast cells, which are a useful model for comprehending fundamental mechanisms that function similarly in more complex systems like those found in animal and plant cells. 

Source:
Journal reference:

Abdel-Fattah, R. W., et al. (2024) Growth-regulated co-occupancy of Mediator and Lsm3 at intronic ribosomal protein genes. Nucleic Acids Research. doi.org/10.1093/nar/gkae266

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