Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Newly explored bacteria reveal some huge RNA surprises

03.12.2009
Yale University researchers have found very large RNA structures within previously unstudied bacteria that appear crucial to basic biological functions such as helping viruses infect cells or allowing genes to "jump" to different parts of the chromosome.

These exceptionally large RNA molecules have been discovered using DNA sequence data available within the past few years. The findings, reported in the December 3 issue of the journal Nature, suggest many other unusual RNAs remain to be found as researchers explore the genes of more species of bacteria, said Ronald Breaker, senior author of the paper and professor of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology

"Our work reveals new classes of large RNAs exist, which would be akin to protein scientists finding new classes of enzymes," said Breaker, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. "Since we have only scratched the surface when it comes to examining microbial DNA that is covering the planet – there will certainly be many more large RNAs out there to discover and these newfound RNAs are also likely to have amazing functions as well."

The RNA molecules rank among the largest and most sophisticated RNAs yet discovered and may act like enzymes or carry out other complex functions in bacteria. The RNAs are found in bacteria which have yet to be grown in labs and so have been difficult to study.

RNA, or ribonucleic acid, is a chemical related to DNA. (Move definition up) RNA molecules are best known for carrying information from genes encoded in DNA to ribosomes, which are the protein-manufacturing machines of cells. However, some RNAs are not passive messengers, but form intricate structures that function like enzymes. For example, ribosomes are constructed using the two largest structured RNAs in bacteria that together function as the chemical factory for producing proteins. Yale University's Thomas Steitz won the 2009 Nobel Prize for his work to solve the atomic-resolution structure of ribosomes from bacterial cells. His work helped prove that ribosomes stitch together amino acids to make proteins using large RNAs like enzymes.

Nearly all of the largest structured RNAs previously known had been discovered in the 1970s or earlier. The scientists discovered these new RNAs by analyzing genetic data from poorly studied bacteria that in many cases cannot yet be grown in laboratory conditions. Only a tiny fraction of bacteria in the wild can now be grown in the lab, and scientists have only recently been able to collect genetic data from uncultivated bacteria. Consequently, there is a vast array of bacteria for which genetic data remains unavailable. Many other RNAs likely remain hidden in these under-studied bacteria that also have unusual characteristics that will greatly expand the known roles of RNA in biology.

The Breaker laboratory has used the explosion of DNA sequence information and new computer programs to discover six of the top twelve largest bacterial RNAs just in the last several years. One of the newly discovered RNAs, called GOLLD, is the third largest and most complex RNA discovered to date, and appears to be used by viruses that infect bacteria. Another large RNA revealed in the study, called HEARO, has a genetic structure that suggests it is part of a type of "jumping gene" that can move to new locations in the bacterial chromosome. They also found other RNAs in species of bacteria abundant in the open ocean, and some of these had been identified near Hawaii by researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. These RNAs are also very common in bacteria that live near the shore of the North American east coast, and so organisms that carry this RNA are likely to be very common in the waters of all the earth's oceans.

The research was funded by Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the National Institutes of Health.

The authors of this paper are Zasha Weinberg, Jonathan Perreault, Michelle M. Meyer and Ronald R. Breaker. All are from Yale. The title of the paper is "Exceptional Structured Noncoding RNAs Revealed by Bacterial Metagenome Analysis."

Bill Hathaway | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.yale.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds
26.05.2017 | Cornell University

nachricht How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system
26.05.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Can the immune system be boosted against Staphylococcus aureus by delivery of messenger RNA?

Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

First Juno science results supported by University of Leicester's Jupiter 'forecast'

26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>