Yale professor receives Johnson & Johnson Focused Giving award

06/07/04

New Haven, Conn. -- Sidney Altman, Sterling Professor of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology at Yale University has been awarded a three-year, Focused Giving Grant by Johnson & Johnson to support his work on coordinated regulation of the protein subunits of RNase P in HeLa Cells.

Professor Altman received the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1989 for his work on RNaseP demonstrating that RNA as well as protein can have catalytic properties. The RNaseP enzyme in mammals contains at least 10 protein subunits in addition to the RNA subunit.

With this grant Altman's group will pursue the basis of their observation that directly inhibiting expression of one of the protein subunits (Rpp38) in human nuclear RNase P turned off the expression of some, but not all, subunits without further cell manipulation.

The research will use external guide sequences (EGS), RNA sequences that bind to the target RNA so that the complex looks like a normal substrate for RNase P, to identify and inactivate messages for the protein subunits. The presence of the EGS in cells subsequently works rapidly and specifically and has been used in the past to target essential virus genes and decrease infection. Understanding how to affect the expression of multiple genes in a coordinated manner has important implications for many basic biological functions, and disease treatments.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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