In an article published by Science Daily, scientists studying RNA editing have decided to turn to the professionals for help. Editing proteins known as PPR are masters in the art of RNA modification. In plants much of the genetic material contains small errors affecting the DNA in the mitochondria of the cells. But rather than changing the DNA (the actual building blueprints.) these editors act as proofreaders. Going over the RNA and proofreading for any mistakes. Since each editor can usually only recognize one specific error, most plants can have upwards of 500 different proof readers. Researchers curious to see how these whether these editors work alone, or if they need help decided to insert the PPR into E. coli. The assumption of most researchers was that the PPR locate errors and then call upon an RNA correction fluid, an enzyme called cytidine deaminase for help. However, what they discovered was that some PPR proteins have a certain sequence of amino acids at their end which are known to theoretically act as cytidine deaminase. It’s as if they carry their own vial of correction fluid, ready to correct any errors on the spot.
The question is, why did this develop over the course of evolution. One theory suggests that the RNA editing may allow plants to collect mutations. With so many different combinations of changes that individually could be harmful or even fatal, but together could provide a survival advantage for the plant. Discoveries like these pave the way for amazing possibilities in the now not so distant future. One-day RNA editing will be used to cure diseases that today’s medicine simply cannot cure and treatments cannot help. The future of medical science may very well depend on genetics.