A study of a recently discovered microRNA gene reveals that its function is to regulate the secretion of insulin in the pancreas. The findings, which for the first time define a biological function for a mammalian microRNA gene, are published in the November 11 issue of Nature.
The discovery was made by a team of researchers from Rockefeller University, Lund University (Sweden), New York University, and Oxford University.
MicroRNA genes are a newly discovered large class of regulatory genes that do not encode proteins. Although these genes are present in virtually all multi-cellular organisms, their biological function had been largely unclear. In the study, microRNA miR-375 was found to regulate insulin secretion. NYUs Nikolaus Rajewsky, a new genomics faculty member in NYUs Center for Comparative Functional Genomics and an assistant professor in the Department of Biology, developed a computer algorithm to predict the targets of microRNAs in the genome. In the study, predicted gene targets for miR-375 were verified experimentally, thereby making an important contribution for understanding miR-375 function in regulating insulin secretion.
James Devitt | EurekAlert!
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