Rockefeller scientists show that microRNAs play an essential role in the development of the fruit fly
In a story reminiscent of David and Goliath, new research from Rockefeller University shows that sometimes the smallest molecules can be the most powerful. In the July 1 issue of Cell, Ulrike Gaul, Ph.D., and colleagues report that microRNAs serve very important, and very specific, functions during the early development of the fruit fly.
First discovered a few years ago, microRNAs are short strings of RNA that are made in large amounts in every cell from plant to humans. Biochemists, including co-author Thomas Tuschl, Ph.D., found that microRNAs bind to messenger RNAs, which are the blueprints for proteins, and either target them for destruction or inhibit them from making proteins. "There was a lot of beautiful biochemistry showing how microRNAs are made and processed," says Gaul, head of the Laboratory for Developmental Neurogenetics. "But we didn’t really know how important they are for the development of an organism and its function."
Kristine Kelly | EurekAlert!
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