Possible links to DiGeorge syndrome, schizophrenia also seen
Tiny bits of short-lived genetic material called microRNAs, or miRNAs, have attracted enormous interest from scientists since their discovery in humans only a few years ago. Viewed most broadly, they appear to play significant roles in controlling gene expression and development in many different settings.
Now, a new study from researchers at The Wistar Institute identifies for the first time a molecular complex vital for the creation of miRNAs. This complex, dubbed the microprocessor complex, contains two proteins, one of which has been linked to DiGeorge syndrome, the most common disorder of genetic deletion in humans. A swathe of DNA containing multiple genes is missing in DiGeorge syndrome patients, and many are born with heart defects, immune deficiencies, and developmental and behavioral problems. Intriguingly, one in four also goes on to develop schizophrenia, a disorder for which causative genes have yet to be identified. The new study appears in the November 11 issue of Nature.
Franklin Hoke | EurekAlert!
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