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!
Complementing conventional antibiotics
24.05.2018 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
Building a brain, cell by cell: Researchers make a mini neuron network (of two)
23.05.2018 | Institute of Industrial Science, The University of Tokyo
A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.
The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...
At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.
At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...
There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?
At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
24.05.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
24.05.2018 | Medical Engineering
24.05.2018 | Physics and Astronomy