Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Computer sleuthing helps unravel RNA's role in cellular function

16.02.2012
Computer engineers may have just provided the medical community a new way of figuring out exactly how one of the three building blocks of life forms and functions.

University of Central Florida Engineering Assistant Professor Shaojie Zhang used a complex computer program to analyze RNA motifs – the subunits that make up RNA (ribonucleic acid).

RNA is one of three building blocks of life along with DNA and proteins. Knowing how all three building blocks work together and how they go awry will go a long way to understanding what causes diseases and how to treat them.

While much has been discovered about DNA thanks to the Human Genome Project, not a lot is known about RNA, which like DNA helps encode genes. Some viruses also use RNA as their prime genetic source to replicate. And various types of RNA are involved in everything from protein synthesis, controlling gene expression and communicating cell signals from one part of the body to another.

The units that make up RNA fold like a long accordion and vary in structure. Many have been identified in the past, but finding a quick automatic way to determine patterns in the varying types of units has been elusive until now.

"We have discovered many new RNA structural motifs using our new computational method," Zhang said. "This breakthrough can largely increase our current knowledge of RNA structural motifs. And newly discovered motifs may also help us develop possible treatment of certain diseases."

Zhang's work is this month's cover story (http://nar.oxfordjournals.org/ http://nar.oxfordjournals.org/content/40/3.cover-expansion) in Nucleic Acids Research, an academic journal.

Using computers, Zhang and his team have been able to view these RNA accordion-like structures and how they fold in a 3-D scale. The program can quickly go through many RNA samples and discover units that are distinct and form patterns. That information gives researchers clues about their function.

"It's another tool to help unravel the mystery of how biology works and why it sometimes goes wrong, resulting in some fatal disease," Zhang said.

Zhang worked with Cuncong Zhong, a Ph.D. candidate at UCF on the study. Zhang has a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of California at San Diego. His specialty is computational biology and bioinformatics. He joined UCF in 2007 and established UCF's Computational Biology and Bioinformatics Lab housed in the College of Engineering and Computer Science.

CONTACT: Zenaida Gonzalez Kotala, UCF News & Information, 407-823-6120 or zenaida.kotala@ucf.edu

UCF Stands For Opportunity --The University of Central Florida is a metropolitan research university that ranks as the second largest in the nation with more than 58,000 students. UCF's first classes were offered in 1968. The university offers impressive academic and research environments that power the region's economic development. UCF's culture of opportunity is driven by our diversity, Orlando environment, history of entrepreneurship and our youth, relevance and energy. For more information visit http://news.ucf.edu

Zenaida Gonzalez Kotala | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ucf.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Could this protein protect people against coronary artery disease?
17.11.2017 | University of North Carolina Health Care

nachricht Microbial resident enables beetles to feed on a leafy diet
17.11.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für chemische Ökologie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth

17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures

17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change

17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>