Pollard lab publishes new findings

July 12, 2023

The Pollard Lab recently published a paper in the journal Genetics. Natural variation in codon bias and mRNA folding strength interact synergistically to modify protein expression in Saccharomyces cerevisiae was co-authored by Western Biology Associate Professor Dan Pollard, Ph D., and Western alumni Anastacia Wienecke and Maggie Barry.

Synopsis of the paper, written by Dr. Dan Pollard:

In this paper, we look at how differences between individuals in the DNA of their genes impact how much protein their cells produce. Using baker's yeast, we found that naturally occurring DNA differences impact the production of protein by altering two properties of genes: codon bias and mRNA folding strength. Codon bias is a measure of how well a gene's genetic code matches the supply of materials needed to make protein. mRNA folding strength is a measure of how stable a structure a gene's RNA forms as it steps through the central dogma of DNA to RNA to protein. Both of these properties were suspected as being important, but no one had shown that they helped explain why some individuals produce more protein than others. We confirmed that they are both very significant factors for explaining protein production differences between individuals. Furthermore, we discovered codon bias and mRNA folding strength interact in a synergistic, or amplifying, way rather than each independently impacting protein production. How they work together is still a mystery. We are excited to work on solving this mystery in the years ahead. 

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