LONDON: An oxygen-sensitive enzyme has been found to play a key role in how genes create the many different proteins that make up our bodies.
The finding shows that the enzyme, termed Jmjd6, directly intervenes in the process in which the DNA of our genes is “cut and pasted” into instructions for the creation of specific proteins.
The discovery, reported in this week’s Science by a team led by scientists from Oxford University and Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich, opens up a new area of molecular research into conditions such as heart disease and cancer.
“Previous work from Oxford has shown that some of these enzymes, called oxygenases, affect which genes are expressed in response to low levels of oxygen. What we have now found is that they also regulate the specific form this expression takes” to give the different proteins that make up everything from heart cells to tumours,” said Professor Chris Schofield of Oxford University’s Department of Chemistry, one of the authors of the paper.
Genes, stored in the form of DNA, are converted into proteins by a “middleman molecule” called Messenger Ribonucleic Acid ‘mRNA’.