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Researchers at the University of Toronto have shown that an enzyme called RNA polymerase (Pol) II drives generation of the building blocks of ribosomes, the molecular machines that manufacture all proteins in cells based on the genetic code.
The discovery reveals a previously unknown function for the enzyme in the nucleolus, the site of ribosome manufacture inside of human cells, where the enzyme had not been seen before. Pol II is one of three RNA polymerases that together enable cells to transfer genetic information from DNA to RNA and then proteins.
"Our study redefines the division of labour among the three main RNA polymerases, by identifying Pol II as a major factor in the control of nucleolar organizations underlying protein synthesis," said Karim Mekhail, a professor of laboratory medicine and pathobiology at U of T. "It also provides a tool for other researchers to interrogate the function of certain nucleic acid structures more precisely across the genome."
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