Biotech Updates

Biologists Reveal Role of a Protein in Crop Traits Modification

September 25, 2013

A team of biologists from Indiana University Bloomington led by Prof. David M. Kehoe has shown for the first time that a protein long been known as critical for the initiation of protein synthesis in all organisms can also play a role in the regulation of gene expression in some bacteria, and probably in land plants as well.

The protein, called translation initiation factor 3, or IF3, is one of three proteins that make up the core structure needed to guide the joining of messenger RNAs and ribosomes as protein translation begins. These three proteins have been considered to play little, if any, role in regulating the expression of genes. The new findings, however, reveal that IF3, in addition to its function during translation initiation, also regulates the expression of genes that encode components of the photosynthetic machinery in response to changes in the color of light in the surrounding environment, a process called "chromatic acclimation."

Professor Kehoe said "Particularly interesting was our finding that IF3 families exist in a number of plant species, including commercially important crops. This means that new approaches to the modification of traits in agriculturally significant plant species may be possible by manipulating the expression patterns of different IF3 family members."

For more details about this research, read the news release available at