Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

MicroRNAs grease the cell's circadian clockwork

02.06.2009
Most of our cells possess an internal clock, a group of genes displaying a cyclic expression pattern that reaches a peak once a day.

A large number of circadian genes are expressed by organs such as the liver, whose activity needs to be precisely regulated over the course of the day. A team of researchers of the National Centre of Competence in Research Frontiers in Genetics, based at the University of Geneva, Switzerland, reveals that an important regulator of this molecular oscillator is a specific microRNA.

The latter belongs to a class of small RNA molecules that regulate the production of proteins in our cells. Thus far, little was known about their function within the circadian clockwork. The study by Ueli Schibler's team, published in the 1st June edition of Genes & Development, fills in this important gap.

Living beings have adapted to the alternation between night and day by developing an internal clock, located in the brain. It allows synchronising gene expression and physiological functions with geophysical time. In addition, most of our body's cells possess their own subsidiary oscillators, a group of genes displaying a cyclic expression pattern that reaches a peak every twenty-four hours.

More than 350 genes involved in metabolism, including that of cholesterol and lipids, are expressed in liver cells in a cyclic fashion. Many of them are also influenced by rhythmic food intake. Their activity must therefore be fine-tuned and synchronised with precision to ensure cohesion between diverse metabolic processes.

MicroRNAs induce gene silencing

Ueli Schibler, from the Molecular Biology Department of the University of Geneva, focuses on the mechanisms controlling the tiny oscillators in liver cells. MicroRNAs were among the potential factors likely to be involved in clock gene regulation. The common property of these small molecules lies in their ability to inhibit the synthesis of specific proteins, thus allowing cells to reduce the activity of certain genes at a given time.

"We have studied the role of a microRNA called miR-122, which is highly abundant in liver. It has caught considerable attention for its role in regulating cholesterol and lipid metabolism and in aiding the replication of hepatitis C virus" explains David Gatfield, one of Professor Schibler's collaborators.

Performance of the molecular oscillator…

The researchers' team has discovered that miR-122 is tightly embedded in the output system of the circadian clock in hepatocytes. This microRNA regulates numerous circadian genes, impinging on the amplitude and duration of their expression. Conversely, the synthesis of miR-122 involves a transcription factor that is otherwise known for its function in the circadian clock.

…and viral replication

"It will be exciting to investigate whether the connection between circadian rhythms and miR-122 also extends to this microRNA's role in hepatitis C virus replication", points out David Gatfield. Knowing whether viral multiplication is gated to specific times of the day would contribute significantly to our understanding of the life cycle of this formidable pathogen.

Scientists have uncovered over the past years the role of microRNAs in crucial physiological functions such as growth and programmed cell death, as well as carcinogenesis. Ueli Schibler's team adds a stone to this edifice by placing miR-122 within the clock gene machinery.

Heather Cosel-Pieper | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.cshl.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht A novel socio-ecological approach helps identifying suitable wolf habitats
17.02.2017 | Universität Zürich

nachricht New, ultra-flexible probes form reliable, scar-free integration with the brain
16.02.2017 | University of Texas at Austin

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Biocompatible 3-D tracking system has potential to improve robot-assisted surgery

17.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Real-time MRI analysis powered by supercomputers

17.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Antibiotic effective against drug-resistant bacteria in pediatric skin infections

17.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>