University of Dundee

CRUK Nucleic Acid Structure Group

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Flicking the switch inside the cell

All living cells make proteins to carry out nearly all the jobs that keep them alive, including the enzymes that speed up chemical reactions and molecular pumps that move molecules from one place to another. All this constant activity is what we call the cell's metabolism. Often scientists seek some kind of Achilles heel in that metabolism to achieve therapeutic intervention.

How nature tinkers with our genetics

Why do dogs have puppies, cats have kittens, and we have children with similar characteristics to ourselves? Because information is passed down through the genes, a library of instruction manuals on how to build all living things. Genes are made of the famous double-helical DNA molecule, that encodes information (the instructions) in its structure, in the order of the pieces (the "bases", of which there are four types) that make it up. RNA is similar, yet more dynamic, a worker rather than just a library. This is the basis of the science of genetics.

Lilley lab sheds light on the early origins of life

Professor David Lilley most recent research findings have been published in Nature Chemical Biology today. The paper describes the crystal structure of a new ribozyme (called TS). Ribozymes are RNA molecules that act like enzymes to accelerate chemical reactions. The great majority of enzymes are made of proteins, but a small sub-set are made of RNA (a close chemical cousin of the familiar DNA).

Professor David Lilley follows in the footsteps of Einstein and Marie Curie by attending the prestigious Solvay Conference.

Last month Professor David Lilley from the School of Life Sciences was selected to chair a session at the prestigious Solvay Conference in Brussels. The Solvay Conferences began in 1911 and take place every three years in physics or chemistry. The event is invitation-only and attended by around 50 scientists who are the world leaders in the area of the meeting. The 1911 Solvay Conference in Physics was the first international conference in physics ever to be organised.

‘Molecular origami’ enables scientists recreate RNA process in lab

Nanotechnology is engineering at an unimaginably small scale, that of individual molecules. Nature has led the way with this, constructing complex structures and functioning machines inside living cells, and scientists are taking a lead from this to engineer molecular-scale objects using natural molecules as building blocks. These could have a variety of potential functions, the most promising of which is the precise, targeted delivery of drug molecules. This is perhaps the real-life equivalent of the old science-fiction movie Fantastic Voyage (1966), or a step in that direction.