News of the WeekProtein Chemistry

A Two-Piece Protein Assembles Itself

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Science  07 Aug 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5378, pp. 763-764
DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5378.763a

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MONT-ROLLAND, QUEBEC-- Proteins do many of the trickiest jobs in living cells, catalyzing reactions, passing signals, and providing basic structure. Now scientists have discovered a bacterial protein with yet another talent: seamlessly splicing together two other protein pieces. At an evolutionary biology meeting here last week, a molecular biologist reported that he and his colleagues have identified a molecular matchmaker, a protein-within-a-protein called a split intein, which brings together two pieces of protein encoded on very different parts of the chromosome, knits the pieces together, and then neatly cuts itself out.