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Cover Molecular Biology

Regulation of transcription  

This chapter describes the regulation of transcription. A variety of mechanisms are used to repress or activate transcription initiation in bacteria. Transcription can be repressed by blocking the binding of RNA polymerase (Trp repressor, cI). Transcription can be activated by recruiting the polymerase holoenzyme (CAP), stimulating open complex formation (CAP, NtrC), or altering the structure of promoter DNA (MerR). Meanwhile, eukaryotic genes are regulated by co-activator and co-repressor complexes, which are recruited to the DNA by sequence-specific DNA-binding proteins. These complexes typically contain enzymes that reposition nucleosomes or that add or remove post-translational modifications from histones and other transcription factors. The expression of some bacterial and eukaryotic genes is regulated by controlling transcription elongation or termination. The chapter then considers the concept of gene silencing.


Cover Tools and Techniques in Biomolecular Science

RNA interference technology  

Ian Hampson, Gavin Batman, and Thomas Walker

This chapter explains the RNA interference (RNAi) machinery that regulates post-transcriptional gene silencing. The RNAi technology is considered a vital tool in basic molecular and cellular genetic research, functional genomics, gene expression profiling, drug discovery, prospective disease targeting, and therapies. The chapter describes how the two main classes of small regulatory RNAs-short interfering RNA (siRNA) and microRNA (miRNA)-are generated and how they silence gene expression. It gives an overview of the RNAi pathway and looks at the two main approaches currently used to silence gene expression in vitro , namely, the siRNA technology and the short hairpin RNA (shRNA) technology. Moreover, it discusses the advantages and limitations of the two. The chapter also explores the therapeutic possibilities available using targeted gene silencing.


Cover Plants, Genes & Agriculture

Plant Diseases and Strategies for Their Control  

Andrew F. Bent

This chapter discusses plant diseases caused by viruses, bacteria, fungi, and oomycetes, and explains how understanding the mechanisms of these diseases can be used to breed more durable resistance into crops. Genetic diversity of a crop species can minimize the threat of severe disease epidemics. Disease problems can be reduced by plant cultivation practices such as crop rotation or altered irrigation, by use of fungicides and other chemicals, and especially by planting disease-resistant plant varieties. The chapter then looks at how plants have a sensitive pathogen-detection system — the innate immune system — that allows early and strong activation of defenses. It also considers how molecular biologists use genetic engineering to protect plants from pathogens. A particularly effective method is called HIGS or host-induced gene silencing.


Cover Molecular Biology of RNA

David Elliott and Michael Ladomery

Molecular Biology of RNA provides an overview of a cutting-edge field of biology. It starts with an introduction to the subject. It looks at how RNA can form versatile structures. It moves on to consider catalytic RNAs. Other topics covered include pre-mRNA splicing by the spliceosome, the RNA-binding proteins, pre-mRNA splicing defects found in development and disease, and co-transcriptional pre-mRNA processing. The text also looks at nucleocytoplasmic traffic of messenger RNA, messenger RNA localization, and translation of messenger RNA. It also examines stability and degradation of mRNA and RNA editing. Finally, the text provides an analysis on biogenesis and nucleocytoplasmic traffic of non-coding RNAs; the 'macro' RNAs, which include long non-coding RNAs and epigenetics; and the short non-coding RNAs and gene silencing. The text ends with a quick look at future perspectives.