Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Molecular Multi-Tasking
01 March 2012

Molecular Multi-Tasking

Life inside our cells might appear quite chaotic. Proteins are hard at work; energy is being used and recycled; the cell is moving and changing and constantly reacting to its environment. Fortunately, the cell has evolved to be very good at multi-tasking. The process of making a protein from a gene is one which the cell must repeat millions of times per hour. A genetic code is read from DNA in the nucleus (known as transcription); deciphered (into mRNA) and this message transported to the cytoplasm to be used as the blueprint for a new protein (translation). Here we see a snapshot of this dynamic process, and an example of cellular multi-tasking. Fluorescent probes attached to the cell’s machinery reveal that mRNA (shown in yellow) can be read and deciphered simultaneously (by factors shown in red) in the nucleus. Where the two colours coincide shows both processes are at work side-by-side.

Written by John Ankers

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