How proteins unwind RNA

Biologists have discovered the mechanism by which a group of proteins, known as DEAD-Box proteins, unravel RNA (ribonucleic acid).

Double-stranded RNA, which translates genetic information to synthesise proteins, is remodeled for different processes within the cell. But until now, no-one knew how this occurred.

Biologists found that one part of the DEAD-box protein locks onto the RNA molecule and another part bonds to the chemical energy ATP - this configuration causes a third bit of the protein to come down between the two strands of RNA, grab one strand and twist it away.

This process appears to be universal across the family of DEAD-box proteins, therefore across all types of life, and it is an important mechanism for cell division.

DEAD-box proteins have been linked to diseases such as cancer, where the over-expression of these proteins lead to lead to uncontrolled cell division.

Read more at University of Texas at Austin