14 September 2013

UdeS Team Discovers a New Type of Protein

A team of researchers at the Université de Sherbrooke’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences has discovered a new type of proteins referred to as alternative proteins.

This major discovery is challenging one of the principles of cellular biology, which states that a gene directs the production of a single protein, known as the reference protein.

In practice, this breakthrough opens the door to a better understanding of diseases and their causes, since diseases are generally caused by a disruption of one or more key proteins.

2293733000-dsc_8252_roucou_xavier_equipe_article_Xavier Roucou, Professor, Benoît Vanderperre, doctoral student, Julie Motard, research professionnal, Cyntia Bissonnette, doctoral student, Danny Bergeron, master’s student, and Guillaume Tremblay, research professionnal. Missing: Catherine Lapointe and Solène Vanderperre

The research was conducted in the laboratory of Xavier Roucou, a researcher at the Centre de recherche clinique Étienne-Le Bel (CRCELB – Clinical Research Centre) of the CHUS (Sherbrooke University Hospital Centre). It shows that the information transmitted by genes through messenger RNA (mRNA) can be decoded by the recipient ribosomes in several different ways. The result is that a single mRNA can produce several separate proteins with different functions.

Initial Research Benefits

Because of this characteristic, alternative proteins open new approaches to researching a number of pathologies.

Moreover, the Sherbrooke team has already determined that one alternative protein is involved in the development of spinocerebellar ataxia type 1, a neurodegenerative disease affecting 5 out of every 100,000 people.

Source: Université de Sherbrooke
Photo credit: Robert Dumont


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