Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


’Pregnant’ protein-coding genes carry RNA ’babies’


Scientists characterize large numbers of independently expressed, non-protein-coding RNA genes in the introns of protein-coding genes

Scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences have performed a comprehensive analysis of small, non-protein-coding RNAs in the model nematode, C. elegans. They characterize 100 heretofore-undescribed transcripts, including two novel classes; they provide insights into the genomic structure and transcriptional regulation of non-coding RNAs; and they underscore the importance of non-coding RNAs in nematode development. Their work appears this month in the journal Genome Research.

"The significance of non-protein-coding RNAs as central components of various cellular processes has risen sharply over the recent years," explains Prof. Runsheng Chen, principal investigator on the study. Excluding microRNAs (miRNAs), or small transcripts that have recently received widespread attention and are known to play important roles in transcriptional regulation, small non-coding RNAs (or ncRNAs) in C. elegans have not been extensively investigated – until now.

Using a new, high-throughput procedure to clone small, full-length ncRNAs, Chen’s laboratory isolated and characterized 161 unique transcripts. A major advantage of the new cloning procedure is that it achieves an extraordinarily high detection rate for ncRNAs by current standards. "Studies published over recent years have only been able to reach a detection rate of about 3%, but our method reached a detection rate of 30% – a 10-fold increase in cloning efficiency," explains Chen. "It’s like going from a Model T Ford to a Ferrari in one fell swoop!"

Of the 161 transcripts detected by Chen’s group, 100 were novel and 61 were previously known or predicted. Among the 100 novel genes, 30 had no known function, whereas 70 belonged to the ubiquitous class of small nucleolar RNAs (snoRNAs). Based on sequence and structural features, Chen and his colleagues were able to classify more than half of the 30 unknown RNAs into two new categories: stem-bulge RNAs (sbRNAs) and small nuclear-like RNAs (snlRNAs). Both classes of transcripts exhibited enhanced expression during the later stages of worm development, indicating a functional role for these transcripts in developmental processes.

"The interesting thing about nematodes is that their genomic organization of both snoRNAs and other ncRNAs is quite different from other animals," says Chen. In contrast to the genomes of other metazoans, where most snoRNAs are found in introns and are under the control of independent promoters, nematode snoRNA loci are both intergenic and intronic (with and without promoters). Interestingly, plant snoRNAs are primarily located in intergenic regions. Other ncRNA genes (i.e., non-snoRNA genes) are mainly located in intergenic regions in both plants and animals. But in nematodes, Chen’s team found that many of these other ncRNA genes are located in the introns of host protein-coding genes and are under the control of independent promoter elements.

Finally, Chen and his colleagues estimated that 2700 ncRNA genes are present in the C. elegans genome. "One particularly intriguing aspect of the non-coding transcriptome is its potential to fill the regulatory gap created by the surprisingly low number of protein-coding genes in higher organisms," says Chen. "Between one-celled yeast, thousand-celled nematodes, and trillion-celled mammals, there is a difference of a mere 6,000 to 19,000 to 25,000 in protein-coding gene numbers. We think that regulation by non-coding RNA accounts for this discrepancy and helps to explain the additional biological complexity of higher organisms."

Maria Smit | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Strong, steady forces at work during cell division
20.10.2016 | University of Massachusetts at Amherst

nachricht Disturbance wanted
20.10.2016 | Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

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

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Innovative technique for shaping light could solve bandwidth crunch

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

Finding the lightest superdeformed triaxial atomic nucleus

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

NASA's MAVEN mission observes ups and downs of water escape from Mars

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>