Northwestern University explains the complexities of RNA and how strands enable genetic decision making by invading and displacing one another.
Similar to a light switch, RNA switches (called riboswitches) determine which genes turn “on” and “off.” Although this may seem like a simple process, the inner workings of these switches have confounded biologists for decades.
Now researchers led by Northwestern University and the University at Albany discovered one part of RNA smoothly invades and displaces another part of the same RNA, enabling the structure to rapidly and dramatically change shape. Called “strand displacement,” this mechanism appears to switch genetic expression from “on” to “off.”
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