A multi-institutional study performed by Texas Medical Branch researchers, scientists of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and those from Texas A&M has found that the proper reproduction of proteins and the correct folding of different cellular structures requires unique timing that cannot be universally determined.
RNA folding which helps create proper 3 dimensional proteins is a very delicate process, which, if interrupted at any point or rushed to completion will create mutated proteins that lead to cancerous cell behaviors.
The paper shows that all protein creation works on a 24-hour circadian rhythm, just like the waking and sleeping cycle of animals. Both the active segment and the resting one must be permitted to occur at the proper times, in the same way that sleep in people is more effective if done during nighttime than during the day, so too is the process of protein creation more effective if carried out at the correct time.
The paper is entitled “Non-optimal codon usage affects expression, structure and function of clock protein FRQ,” and follows the life cycle of a protein given the moniker FREQUENCY.
FREQUENCY is a bread mold protein that is synthesized at a significantly slower rate than other molds of a similar kind. It is often used as a model for research purposes.
The process was synthetically sped up by researchers to find out whether or not it could be accomplished more quickly, or if the periods of activity and rest were essential to proper protein synthesis.
They used RNA codons in each amino acid that could be read more quickly, which would allow them to produce replications of the amino acid at a faster rate.
“We inserted a codon sequence into the fungus that was optimized to be translated faster,” said José Barral, an associate professor at the University of Texas Medical Branch. “We found that more of the protein was made, which is consistent with a faster translation rate — but we also saw that the organism’s circadian rhythm goes completely out of whack.”
“What happens is the protein doesn’t fold properly when it’s made fast,” said Barral . “We’ve made this happen before by inserting new genes into bacteria, but the great thing here is that, like human beings, these fungi are eukaryotes — they’re much more complex than bacteria. Also, this is an endogenous protein, something that’s naturally part of the organism, and it performs an important biological function.”
So, they now know that timing is part of the necessary process of protein folding, and if the schedule of the RNA is accelerated, improperly folded cells are created which will cause the creation of mutated cells similar to those found in tumors.