Alex Palazzo has been hired by my department as an Assistant Professor (tenure-stream). He'll be arriving in a few months to set up his lab.
Most of you know Alex from his blog The Daily Transcript. Pop on over there to congratulate him [The Deed is Done].
The Department of Biochemistry should also be congratulated for landing such an outstanding candidate. You can leave comments here and I'll make sure everyone sees them.
Alex's work on the targeting of messenger RNA is extremely impressive. Everyone in the Department wanted to offer him the job as soon as he finished his visit last summer. We all look forward to having him as our colleague. The fact that we will now have two blogging Professors is a nice bonus.
Palazzo, A.F., Springer, M., Shibata, Y., Lee, C.S., Dias, A.P., and Rapoport, T.A. (2007) The signal sequence coding region promotes nuclear export of mRNA. PLoS Biol. 5(12):e322 [doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0050322]
In eukaryotic cells, most mRNAs are exported from the nucleus by the transcription export (TREX) complex, which is loaded onto mRNAs after their splicing and capping. We have studied in mammalian cells the nuclear export of mRNAs that code for secretory proteins, which are targeted to the endoplasmic reticulum membrane by hydrophobic signal sequences. The mRNAs were injected into the nucleus or synthesized from injected or transfected DNA, and their export was followed by fluorescent in situ hybridization. We made the surprising observation that the signal sequence coding region (SSCR) can serve as a nuclear export signal of an mRNA that lacks an intron or functional cap. Even the export of an intron-containing natural mRNA was enhanced by its SSCR. Like conventional export, the SSCR-dependent pathway required the factor TAP, but depletion of the TREX components had only moderate effects. The SSCR export signal appears to be characterized in vertebrates by a low content of adenines, as demonstrated by genome-wide sequence analysis and by the inhibitory effect of silent adenine mutations in SSCRs. The discovery of an SSCR-mediated pathway explains the previously noted amino acid bias in signal sequences and suggests a link between nuclear export and membrane targeting of mRNAs.
More papers are in the works.
I hope to see Alex very soon. I owe him a beer.