Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Scientists discover role for dueling RNAs

Researchers have found that a class of RNA molecules, previously thought to have no function, may in fact protect sex cells from self-destructing. These findings will be published in the November 17 issue of the journal Cell.

Central to this discovery is the fundamental process of gene expression. When a gene is ready to produce a protein, the two strands of DNA that comprise the gene unravel. The first strand produces a molecule called messenger RNA, which acts as the protein's template. Biologists call this first strand of DNA the "sense" or "coding" transcript. Even though the other strand doesn't contain a protein recipe, it may also, on occasion, produce an "anti-sense" RNA molecule, one whose sequence is complementary to that of the messenger, or sense, RNA. Antisense RNA has been detected for a number of genes, but is largely considered a genetic oddity.

Using common baker's yeast, Cintia Hongay, a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of Whitehead Member and MIT Professor Gerald Fink, discovered that in the case of a gene called IME4, the antisense RNA blocks the sense RNA. In other words, the gene disables its own ability to make protein.

"This is the first case where a specific function in a higher cell for antisense RNA has been found," says Fink, senior author on the paper. "This points to an entirely new process of gene regulation that we've never seen before in eukaryotic cells."

... more about:
»Chromosome »IME4 »RNA »antisense

There is a method to this sense/antisense madness, one that has a kind of yin and yang quality. When conditions around yeast cells are good and rich in nutrients, the cells divide by mitosis--that is, the DNA duplicates so each daughter cell receives exactly the same number of chromosomes as the original cell. However, when the yeast cells are starving, IME4 switches on and activates a process called meiosis. Here, the cells divide into germ-cell spores that, like mammalian egg and sperm cells, have half the number of chromosomes. Yeast spores withstand this harsh environment far more ably than the larger cells from which they originate.

But in some cases, flipping the meiotic switch can be catastrophic. If a cell with only one copy of each chromosome (a haploid cell) is forced into meiosis, the progeny won't survive. Fortunately, such destructive meiotic division is avoided in haploid cells because they continually produce IME4 antisense RNA, blocking the production of sense RNA. Antisense IME4, then, safeguards against meiosis in cells that can't handle it.

"This is the first time that we've found a function for antisense RNA, that is not RNAi, in a higher cell type," says Hongay. "In fact, it's really the first time we've seen a gene regulate itself in this way."

"For years scientists have evaluated genomes by measuring the sense RNA, with antisense transcripts thought to have no meaning at all," says Fink. "Here we've found a process in which antisense RNA regulates sense RNA. This same process may occur in the sex cells of mammals. In fact, considering how widespread these antisense transcripts are, I wouldn't be surprised if these findings eventually lead us to discover an entirely new level of gene regulation."

Hongay is now searching the yeast genome for other genes that might be regulated by antisense RNA.

David Cameron | EurekAlert!
Further information:

Further reports about: Chromosome IME4 RNA antisense

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Molecular doorstop could be key to new tuberculosis drugs
20.03.2018 | Rockefeller University

nachricht Modified biomaterials self-assemble on temperature cues
20.03.2018 | Duke University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Physicists made crystal lattice from polaritons

20.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

20.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Thawing permafrost produces more methane than expected

20.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>