News / 15 April 2017

In collaboration with an assembly of highly recognised international scientists, EMBL Australia group leader Chen Davidovich and Nobel Laureate Thomas Cech (Howard Hughes Medical Institute and University of Colorado at Boulder) have discovered how a gene-suppressing enzyme recognises genes product.

One of these enzymes formed by several proteins, called Polycomb Repressive Complex 2 (PCR2), is essential to prevent thousands of inactive genes from switching on. By doing so, PRC2 regulates genes within a healthy human cell. Problems with PRC2 expression and function can lead to cancer formation or progression. Accordingly, there has been a large effort to understand how PRC2 works and how we can target it in order to treat cancer. It has been long known that PRC2 can bind to RNA that emerges from active gents, but it was not known how PRC2 recognises these RNA molecules.  In particular, the researchers discovered how PRC2 interacts and binds to specific sites of RNA. They showed that specific inhibitors that bind to RNAs, normally recognised by PRC2, can block PRC2-RNA interactions in-vitro. This new discovery has the potential to lead to new cancer treatments. The group has added to the knowledge around how enzymes work to switch genes on and off.

Read the full article here.

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