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DNA needs a good editor

December 14, 2009

Imagine a huge spool of film containing thousands of sequences of random scenes. Without a talented editor, a screening would have no meaning.

The RNA “spools” that make up DNA in our genes need careful editing, too. Genes are composed of meaningful sequences, called exons, separated by meaningless junk sections called introns. In order for cells to produce RNA — the material that is required to create proteins that are vital for life — they must precisely remove meaningless introns and bind meaningful exons together, a process called “splicing”.

How cells differentiate between what’s useful and what’s garbage in our complicated and messy genetic code is a fundamental biology question — one with extremely important implications. Now, Prof. Gil Ast and his doctoral student Schraga Schwartz at the Sackler School of Medicine at Tel Aviv University are successfully finding answers.

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