Is gene splicing real?

"KICK-OFF" FOR RNA RESEARCH

Vienna (OTS) - This weekend meet in Spain for
for the first time the participants in the EURASNET excellence network for research into the "alternative splicing" of RNA, funded with 10 million euros by the EU. The Viennese scientist Dr. Andrea Barta of the Max F. Perutz Laboratories, Medical University of Vienna with her staff.

Alternative splicing is the name for a process in which many different proteins are produced from a single gene. In animals and plants, the blueprint for proteins lies on several pieces of DNA, so-called exons. Between these coding areas lie pieces of DNA, the introns, whose genetic information is not necessary for the structure of the protein. In the cell nucleus, an enormous molecular machine, the spliceosome, cuts the introns out of the first copy of the DNA (pre-mRNA) and connects the exons to one another, thus forming the messenger RNA (mRNA). This then serves as a blueprint for building proteins.

Diversity through alternative splicing

In alternative splicing, different exons from the same pre-mRNA are linked to one another in different ways and thus many different mRNAs are formed, the information of which is in turn translated into proteins.

The importance of alternative splicing becomes particularly clear when one considers the number of human genes - approx. 25,000 - and contrasts this with the number of human proteins - at least 100,000. Alternative splicing enables the genome to produce many more functions (= proteins) than are actually stored.

Diseases caused by disorders in splicing

Alternative splicing affects all areas of development and metabolism of higher organisms and represents an essential level of regulation of gene expression.

Defects and disorders in the splicing mechanism cause or aggravate a variety of human diseases, including cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.

EURASNET - European Alternative Splicing Network of Excellence

The structure and basic functions of the spliceosome are now very well understood. In contrast, the regulation of alternative splicing is still completely misunderstood. For this reason, the 30 international working groups have formed a network under the direction of Prof. Reinhard Lührmann (Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Göttingen).

The aim is to investigate the mechanisms and regulation of alternative splicing, as well as the interactions of the spliceosome with other regulatory mechanisms in gene expression. The research focus is on the connection between alternative splicing and human diseases.

The program

The research program is funded by the EU as a Network of Excellence under the name EURASNET (European Alternative Splicing Network) with 10 million euros for 5 years. In addition to research groups from 11 European countries, groups from Israel and Argentina also take part.

In addition to the research work, the program aims to facilitate and promote the exchange of information, methods and materials among the project partners. The establishment of new working groups is supported by a funding program for 10 young scientists.

Workshops, conferences and cooperation with other research networks, clinics and companies should help to disseminate the research results obtained.

The population will be involved through broad-based public relations work (brochures, teaching materials for schools and universities, press campaigns ...) and will be informed about the importance of the network's research area. The public relations work is carried out from Vienna by Dr. Andrea Barta and Dr. Oliver Mayer (Public Scientific Officer) coordinated and carried out.

Contact:

Dr. Andrea Barta
Department of Medical Biochemistry
Max F. Perutz Laboratories
Dr. Bohrgasse 9/3
1030 Vienna
Tel .: 01-4277-61640
Email: [email protected]

Dr. Oliver Mayer
Public Scientific Officer
Department of Medical Biochemistry
Max F. Perutz Laboratories
Campus Vienna Biocenter 6/1
1030 Vienna
Tel .: 01-4277-5229-4
Email: [email protected]
Fax: 01-4277-9522
Web: www.eurasnet.info, www.mfpl.ac.at

Inquiries & contact:

Max F. Perutz Laboratories, Medical University of Vienna
Dr. Oliver Mayer
Tel .: 01-4277-5229-4
[email protected]