Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

NYU’s Center for Comparative Functional Genomics helps to unravel the function of microRNAS

01.07.2005


MicroRNAs are a recently discovered large class of small, non-coding genes. Each animal genome contains hundreds of these genes, which have been shown to regulate the expression of protein coding genes by binding to partially complementary sites in messenger RNAs. However, little is known about the biological function of these tiny genes, which are encoded in a string of 21 to 24 DNA bases.



In a series of four high-profile papers in Nature, Nature Genetics, Developmental Biology, and PloS Computational Biology published over the past 15 months, researchers at New York University’s Center for Comparative Functional Genomics have shed light on the function and evolution of microRNA across a wide set of genomes. Their newest findings appear in the inaugural issue of Public Library of Science’s journal, PloS Computational Biology.

This study, headed by NYU Assistant Biology Professor Nikolaus Rajewsky, included researchers Dominic Grün, Yi-Lu Wang, and David Langenberger, and Research Assistant Professor Kristin Gunsalus, all at NYU’s Center for Comparative Functional Genomics. By comparing seven recently sequenced fly species, they found that thousands of genes in the genome of a laboratory model organism--the fruit fly--are likely to be regulated by microRNAs.


The researchers could also predict a specific biological function for 70 percent of all of these microRNAs. The predictions in the study are publicly available at pictar.bio.nyu.edu/. The paper also shows that microRNAs that are conserved between flies and mammals are likely to target the same proportion of genes in each species, although the number of conserved regulatory relationships is relatively small.

These findings hint at a significantly larger role for microRNAs during evolution. Evolutionary changes in which genes are targeted by certain microRNAs could thus help to explain differences between species, implicating that microRNAs could be part of genes that drive organismal diversity. In particular, one microRNA was shown to have many more targets in flies than in mammals, and this microRNA was predicted to contribute to the regulation of fly oogenesis, a process that is highly different between flies and mammals.

The paper may be obtained at compbiol.plosjournals.org/

In carrying out the study, the Rajewsky group developed "PicTar," a new algorithm for the identification of microRNA target sites in the genome (published in Nature Genetics, spring 2005). The PicTar algorithm was based on a paper by Rajewsky, who also holds an affiliated appointment at NYU’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, and his collaborator Nicholas Socci published in Developmental Biology in 2004, where they discovered key components of microRNA--target site recognition. When applying PicTar to seven vertebrate genomes, their Nature Genetics study found that each microRNA regulates, on average, 200 different human transcripts and that multiple microRNAs can coordinate their activities to regulate a specific target genes. Altogether, they showed that 20 to 30 percent of all vertebrate genes are likely to be regulated by microRNAS. The paper contains detailed genome-wide target predictions for all human microRNAs as well as tissue-specific predictions. Several predictions were validated experimentally by Rajewsky’s collaborators at Rockefeller University. The findings demonstrate an unforeseen, staggering complexity of gene regulation executed by microRNAs on a genome-wide level.

Finally, collaborating with researchers at Rockefeller University, Lund University (Sweden), and Oxford University, Rajewsky recently helped to unravel the function of a microRNA gene that was shown to regulate the secretion of insulin in the pancreas. The findings, which for the first time defined a physiological function for a mammalian microRNA gene, were published last fall in Nature. 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, and potentially opening the door for new ways to treat diabetes.

James Devitt | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nyu.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Cancer diagnosis: no more needles?
25.05.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

nachricht Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found
25.05.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Alternsforschung - Fritz-Lipmann-Institut e.V. (FLI)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Powerful IT security for the car of the future – research alliance develops new approaches

The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.

Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...

Im Focus: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

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...

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

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...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

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...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

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...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Flow probes from the 3D printer

25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering

Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found

25.05.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>