Structural Biochemistry/Enzyme Regulation/Enzyme and Metabolite Interactions and Gene Regulation based on RNA

In biology, eukaryotic cells were conventionally thought to be able to execute the necessary adaptations of intermediary metabolism to changes in metabolic conditions. Such conditions include nutrient availability, proliferation state, etc. It was also thought that there is little or no involvement of gene regulatory mechanisms in these metabolic conditions mentioned above.

This conventional view, however, has been challenged recently. Connections between intermediary metabolism and the regulation of gene expression are proved to exist recently with discoveries made in the related fields. Some common enzymes have been discovered to have RNA-binding properties, and their RNA-binding activity is controlled by their metabolites.

Furthermore, RNA-binding and enzymatic functions are proved to be mutually exclusive through experiments. Regulation of RNA binding by cofactors and metabolites of enzymes has suggested a potential coordinating principle that may help to explain gene regulatory and metabolic functions. In some cases, enzymatic and RNA-binding functions may be competitive. If this is the case, enzyme activities could be regulated by RNA binding.

The REM (RNA, enzymes, and metabolites) phase of gene regulation may be explored systematically. Firstly, cross-linking techniques may be employed to stabilize RNA-protein interactions in living cells. The yield would consist of all cellular RNA-binding proteins. The interacting RNAs of selected enzymes are then identified, and the lists of mRNA binding to a given enzyme could be analyzed. Finally, the metabolic functions of interest may be discovered.

The REM phase of gene regulation could have broad applications for cell biochemistry, cell biology, and biotechnology.