“We set out to find a small molecule with very specific effects in the brain, one that could be the target of a future stroke treatment,” says Valina Dawson, Ph.D., a professor in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine’s Institute for Cell Engineering. “What we found is this molecule involved in immune response, which also acts in complex ways on the brain.
This opens up a suite of interesting questions about what microRNA-223 is doing and how, but it also presents a challenge to any therapeutic application.” A report on the discovery is published in the Nov. 13 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
RNA is best known as a go-between that shuttles genetic information from DNA and then helps produce proteins based on that information. But, Dawson explains, a decade ago researchers unearthed a completely different class of RNA: small, nimble fragments that regulate protein production. In the case of microRNA, one member of this class, that control comes from the ability to bind to RNA messenger molecules carrying genetic information, and thus prevent them from delivering their messages. “Compared with most ways of shutting genes off, this one is very quick,” Dawson notes.
Reasoning that this quick action, along with other properties, could make microRNAs a good target for therapy development, Dawson and her team searched for microRNAs that regulate brain cells’ response to oxygen deprivation.
To do that, they looked for proteins that increased in number in cells subjected to stress, and then examined how production of these proteins was regulated. For many of them, microRNA-223 played a role, Dawson says.
In most cases, the proteins regulated by microRNA-223 turned out to be involved in detecting and responding to glutamate, a common chemical signal brain cells use to communicate with each other. A stroke or other injury can lead to a dangerous excess of glutamate in the brain, as can a range of diseases, including autism and Alzheimer’s.
Because microRNA-223 is involved in regulating so many different proteins, and because it affects glutamate receptors, which themselves are involved in many different processes, the molecule’s reach turned out to be much broader than expected, says Maged M. Harraz, Ph.D., a research associate at Hopkins who led the study. “Before this experiment, we didn’t appreciate that a single microRNA could regulate so many proteins,” he explains.
This finding suggests that microRNA-223 is unlikely to become a therapeutic target in the near future unless researchers figure out how to avoid unwanted side effects, Dawson says.
Other authors on the paper are Stephen M. Eacker, Ph.D., Xueqing Wang, Ph.D., and Ted M. Dawson, M.D., Ph.D., from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
This work was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health (grant DA000266) and by a Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund fellowship.Media Contacts:
Shawna Williams | EurekAlert!
New switch decides between genome repair and death of cells
27.09.2016 | University of Cologne - Universität zu Köln
A blue stoplight to prevent runaway photosynthesis
27.09.2016 | National Institute for Basic Biology
Friction stir welding is a still-young and thus often unfamiliar pressure welding process for joining flat components and semi-finished components made of light metals.
Scientists at the University of Stuttgart have now developed two new process variants that will considerably expand the areas of application for friction stir welding.
Technologie-Lizenz-Büro (TLB) GmbH supports the University of Stuttgart in patenting and marketing its innovations.
Friction stir welding is a still-young and thus often unfamiliar pressure welding process for joining flat components and semi-finished components made of...
Optical quantum computers can revolutionize computer technology. A team of researchers led by scientists from Münster University and KIT now succeeded in putting a quantum optical experimental set-up onto a chip. In doing so, they have met one of the requirements for making it possible to use photonic circuits for optical quantum computers.
Optical quantum computers are what people are pinning their hopes on for tomorrow’s computer technology – whether for tap-proof data encryption, ultrafast...
The Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP has been developing various applications for OLED microdisplays based on organic semiconductors. By integrating the capabilities of an image sensor directly into the microdisplay, eye movements can be recorded by the smart glasses and utilized for guidance and control functions, as one example. The new design will be debuted at Augmented World Expo Europe (AWE) in Berlin at Booth B25, October 18th – 19th.
“Augmented-reality” and “wearables” have become terms we encounter almost daily. Both can make daily life a little simpler and provide valuable assistance for...
With the help of artificial intelligence, chemists from the University of Basel in Switzerland have computed the characteristics of about two million crystals made up of four chemical elements. The researchers were able to identify 90 previously unknown thermodynamically stable crystals that can be regarded as new materials. They report on their findings in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.
Elpasolite is a glassy, transparent, shiny and soft mineral with a cubic crystal structure. First discovered in El Paso County (Colorado, USA), it can also be...
For the first time, Fraunhofer IKTS shows additively manufactured hardmetal tools at WorldPM 2016 in Hamburg. Mechanical, chemical as well as a high heat resistance and extreme hardness are required from tools that are used in mechanical and automotive engineering or in plastics and building materials industry. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS in Dresden managed the production of complex hardmetal tools via 3D printing in a quality that are in no way inferior to conventionally produced high-performance tools.
Fraunhofer IKTS counts decades of proven expertise in the development of hardmetals. To date, reliable cutting, drilling, pressing and stamping tools made of...
28.09.2016 | Event News
27.09.2016 | Event News
23.09.2016 | Event News
28.09.2016 | Earth Sciences
28.09.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering
28.09.2016 | Event News