It remains unclear to scientists why almost every RNA-binding protein has a sibling — or “paralog. ” Whilst such sibling proteins have the same origins and are just like each other in a number of ways, they are presumed to fulfill different features in the cell.

Focusing on 2 such sibling RNA-binding proteins — PTBP1 and PTBP2 — that are important for the nervous system, a group of researchers has found that these proteins serve each redundant and unique functions in the developing brain whenever neural stem cells are changed into neurons — tissue that process and transmit information through electrical plus chemical signals.

“PTBP1 is expressed within neural stem cells, and PTBP2 in differentiating neurons, ” said Sika Zheng, an assistant professor associated with biomedical sciences in the School of Medicine at the College of California, Riverside, who led the research project. “Their expressions are almost mutually exclusive. During brain advancement, cells switch expression of PTBP1 to PTBP2. This particular contributes to the neuronal differentiating process, and can offer all of us insights into understanding what makes a neuron a neuron. ”

Study results appear Dec. six in Cell Reports .

The research, done using multiple mouse models, has effects for fine-tuning stem cell therapeutic strategies for neurologic problems such as stroke, ALS, and Parkinson’s disease.

Zheng explained that in humans it normally takes a few months to differentiate a stem cell into a neuron.

“Understanding at the molecular level how these healthy proteins work and how neurons acquire their building blocks can help all of us speed up the differentiation process and make it more efficient, inch he said.

He explained that PTBP1 and PTBP2 could be visualized as siblings who are each born musicians, except that PTBP1 is a master associated with classical music, while PTBP2 masters contemporary music.

“One can imagine that both like music plus sometimes perform a piece in the same way, ” Zheng said. “But at other times they interpret and play the music differently, for instance , with different styles and instruments, giving the same score various meanings and emotions. In this analogy, the musical ratings are primitive genetic messages or premature RNA within a cell. ”

Premature RNA is an natural RNA molecule that is “copied” from a DNA template within the cell nucleus. Premature RNA undergoes extensive modification with the aid of RNA binding proteins to produce the adult RNA genetic message. Depending on how the modification is carried out, the same premature RNA can be processed differently to create versions of the final RNA product. The compositions of all fully developed RNA within a cell collectively determine the cell identification.

“Using the same analogy, the performance could be the final product or mature RNA, ” Zheng ongoing. “Neural stem cells and neurons have somewhat various collections of RNA thanks to the activity of PTBP1 and PTBP2. ”

Story Source:

Materials provided by University of California – Riverside . Unique written by Iqbal Pittalwala. Note: Content might be edited for style and length.