Impaired Oxidized mRNA Clearance May Contribute to Neurodegenerative Disease

Accumulation of DNA damage contributes to neuronal degeneration in diseases such as ALS, but does RNA damage also play a role? A growing body of evidence implicates RNA oxidation as an early contributor to ALS (Chang et. al., 2008), and a new study published November 13 in Cell Reports describes a molecular mechanism by which the cell normally rids itself of oxidized messenger RNA (mRNA). Using both bacterial and yeast translation systems, researchers from Hani Zaher’s laboratory at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri demonstrate that oxidative damage to mRNA causes ribosomal stalling and blocks translation. The no-go decay system, a recently discovered surveillance system for removing non-functional RNA species, effectively degrades oxidized mRNA and prevents toxic RNA builds up in the cell. Clickhere to read the full story on the intricate cellular machinery that tackles RNA oxidative damage, and what happens when this system go awry.

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