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Crop Biotech Update

IU Biologists Elucidates How Protein Machine Systems Tweak Gene Expression

March 2, 2012

Indiana University scientist led by Craig Pikaard have discovered that specific types of RNA polymerase enzymes, the molecular machines that convert DNA into RNA, can have a difference in roles depending on the variation in the protein subunits.

Multisubunit RNA polymerase IV and V (Pol IV and PolV) evolved as specialized forms of Pol II that control the RNA-directed DNA methylation and gene silencing in plants and other eukaryotes. The ninth subunit of Pol II and Pol V are the ones responsible for the difference in functions. The team conducted genetic and molecular tests and found out that a defect in the methylation process could be caused by impairment in PolV function.

Read the research article at and the media release at