Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Study finds more than one-third of human genome regulated by RNA

17.01.2005


For many years, DNA and proteins have been viewed as the real movers and shakers in genomic studies, with RNA seen as little more than a messenger that shuttles information between the two. But researchers from Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and Massachusetts Institute of Technology have discovered that small RNA molecules called microRNAs regulate thousands of human genes--more than one third of the genome’s protein-coding regions. In other words, a class of molecule once relegated to the sidelines may be one of the principal players in regulating cellular mechanisms.



"It’s exciting to see how many genes are regulated by microRNAs. We now know that this type of gene control is much more widespread than previously appreciated," says Whitehead Member and MIT professor of biology David Bartel.

MicroRNAs interrupt a gene’s ability to make protein. These tiny, single-stranded pieces of RNA are newcomers to biological research. It wasn’t until 2000 that researchers even knew that microRNAs existed in humans. Now, in the January 14 edition of the journal Cell, Benjamin Lewis, a graduate student working jointly with Whitehead’s Bartel and MIT associate professor of biology Christopher Burge, provides the first evidence that microRNAs influence a large percentage of life’s functions.


The team developed a computational method to define the relationship between microRNAs and their target genes. In December 2003, the same group identified 400 genes in the human genome targeted by microRNAs. (Prior to this study, there were no known microRNA targets in any vertebrate.)

In their latest paper, taking advantage of the most recent genome-sequencing data, the team has compared human genome data with that of the dog, chicken, mouse, and rat. For each of the microRNAs and protein-coding genes that are common to these five species, the team looked for correspondence between the microRNAs and the protein-coding genes. They discovered that regulation of a third of these genes has been preserved since the last common ancestor of mammals and chicken, which lived 310 million years ago. "This study is an excellent example of the power of comparative genomics to illuminate how human genes are regulated," says Burge. "As more genome data becomes available and the technology becomes more sophisticated, I think we’ll find that even more genes are targeted by microRNAs," predicts Lewis. In addition, the team discovered some hints about how microRNAs find their targets.

To produce a protein, the cell first makes a template for that protein by constructing a molecule called messenger RNA. MicroRNAs inhibit protein production by associating themselves with particular messenger RNAs, thereby reducing the amount of protein that’s ultimately produced. In this study, the researchers determined which portion of the microRNA is most important for this process, and identified additional determinants in the messenger RNA that are likely to contribute to recognition by microRNAs.

These findings contribute to the recent interest in potential therapeutic uses of RNA. For example, using a technique known as RNA interference, or RNAi, researchers are shutting off genes by delivering into cells artificial microRNA-like molecules called siRNAs. RNAi has already transformed how many labs are investigating gene functions, and siRNAs are being developed for clinical applications. Learning more about how microRNAs operate in human cells should help scientists to understand how best to exploit siRNAs for treating disease.

David Cameron | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.wi.mit.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth
09.12.2016 | Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

nachricht Plant-based substance boosts eyelash growth
09.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Polymerforschung IAP

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>