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Along the Central Dogma—Controlling Gene Expression with Small Molecules

Authors
  • Schneider-Poetsch, Tilman
  • Yoshida, Minoru
Type
Published Article
Journal
Annual Review of Biochemistry
Publisher
Annual Reviews
Publication Date
Jun 20, 2018
Volume
87
Pages
391–420
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1146/annurev-biochem-060614-033923
Source
Annual Reviews
Keywords
License
Yellow

Abstract

The central dogma of molecular biology, that DNA is transcribed into RNA and RNA translated into protein, was coined in the early days of modern biology. Back in the 1950s and 1960s, bacterial genetics first opened the way toward understanding life as the genetically encoded interaction of macromolecules. As molecular biology progressed and our knowledge of gene control deepened, it became increasingly clear that expression relied on many more levels of regulation. In the process of dissecting mechanisms of gene expression, specific small-molecule inhibitors played an important role and became valuable tools of investigation. Small molecules offer significant advantages over genetic tools, as they allow inhibiting a process at any desired time point, whereas mutating or altering the gene of an important regulator would likely result in a dead organism. With the advent of modern sequencing technology, it has become possible to monitor global cellular effects of small-molecule treatment and thereby overcome the limitations of classical biochemistry, which usually looks at a biological system in isolation. This review focuses on several molecules, especially natural products, that have played an important role in dissecting gene expression and have opened up new fields of investigation as well as clinical venues for disease treatment.

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