Smallest and Fastest-Known RNA Switches Provide New Drug Targets, University of Michigan Study

Published: Oct 09, 2012

A University of Michigan biophysical chemist and his colleagues have discovered the smallest and fastest-known molecular switches made of RNA, the chemical cousin of DNA. The researchers say these rare, fleeting structures are prime targets for the development of new antiviral and antibiotic drugs. Once believed to merely store and relay genetic information, RNA is now known to be a cellular Swiss Army knife of sorts, performing a wide variety of tasks and morphing into myriad shapes. Over the past decade, researchers have determined that most of the DNA in our cells is used to make RNA molecules, that RNA plays a central role in regulating gene expression, and that these macromolecules act as switches that detect cellular signals and then change shape to send an appropriate response to other biomolecules in the cell.

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