Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Novel laboratory technique nudges genes into activity

30.01.2007
A new technique that employs RNA, a tiny chemical cousin of DNA, to turn on genes could lead to therapeutics for conditions in which nudging a gene awake would help alleviate disease, researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center say.

The gene-activating method, which is being developed by UT Southwestern scientists, also is providing researchers with a novel research tool to investigate the role that genes play in human health.

In a paper appearing online at Nature Chemical Biology and in an upcoming edition of the journal, lead author Dr. Bethany Janowski, assistant professor of pharmacology at UT Southwestern, and her colleagues describe how they activated certain genes in cultured cells using strands of RNA to perturb the delicately balanced mixture of proteins that surround chromosomal DNA, proteins that control whether genes are turned on or off.

Dr. David Corey, professor of pharmacology and the paper’s senior author, said the results are significant because they demonstrate the most effective and consistent method to date for coaxing genes into making the proteins that carry out all of life’s functions – a process formally called gene expression.

... more about:
»Chromosome »DNA »Janowski »Messenger »RNA »strands

In any medical specialty, Dr. Janowski said, there are conditions where increased gene expression would prove beneficial.

"In some disease states, it’s not that gene expression is completely turned off, but rather, the levels of expression are lower than they should be," she said. As a result, there is an inadequate amount of a particular protein in the body. "If we can bring the level up a few notches, we might actually treat or cure the disease," Dr. Janowski said.

For example, some genes are natural tumor suppressors, and using this method to selectively activate those genes might help the body fend off cancer, Dr. Janowski said.

Genes are segments of DNA housed in chromosomes in the nucleus of every cell and they carry instructions for making proteins. Faulty or mutated genes lead to malfunctioning, missing or over-abundant proteins, and any of those conditions can result in disease.

Surrounding the chromosome is a cloud of proteins that helps determine whether or not a particular gene’s instructions are "read" and "copied" to strands of messenger RNA, which then ferry the plans to protein-making "factories" in the cell.

In its experiments, the UT Southwestern team used strands of RNA that were tailor-made to complement the DNA sequence of a specific gene in isolated breast cancer cells. Once the RNA was introduced into the protein mix, the gene was activated, ultimately resulting in a reduced rate of growth in the cancer cells.

Dr. Corey said that while it’s clear the activating effects of the new technique are occurring at the chromosome level, and not at the messenger RNA level, more research is needed to understand the exact mechanism.

Although the RNA strands the researchers introduced – dubbed antigene RNA – were manufactured, Dr. Corey said the process by which they interact with the chromosome appears to mimic what naturally happens in the body.

"One of the reasons why these synthetic strands work so well is that we’re just adapting a natural mechanism to help deliver a man-made molecule," Dr. Corey said. "We’re working with nature, rather than against it."

Drs. Corey’s and Janowski’s current results are built on previous work, published in 2005 in Nature Chemical Biology, in which they found that RNA strands could turn off gene expression at the chromosome level.

The new UT Southwestern research, coupled with that from 2005, demonstrates a shift away from conventional thinking about how gene expression is naturally controlled, as well as how scientists might be able to exploit the process to develop new drug targets, Dr. Corey said.

For example, current methods to block gene expression, such as RNA interference, rely on using RNA strands to intercept and bind with messenger RNA. While RNA interference is an effective tool for studying gene expression, Dr. Janowski said, it’s more efficient to use RNA to control both activation and de-activation at the level of the chromosome.

"It goes right to the source, right to the faucet to turn the genes on or off," she said.

Dr. Corey said many researchers have the ingrained idea that RNA only targets other RNA – such as what occurs when messenger RNA is targeted during RNA interference. "That’s what everyone is familiar with," he said. "But the idea of RNA being used as a sort of nucleic acid modulator of chromosomes, at the level of the chromosome itself, is novel and unexpected, and it’s going to take some getting used to."

Amanda Siegfried | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.utsouthwestern.edu
http://www.utsouthwestern.edu/utsw/cda/dept37389/files/340173.html

Further reports about: Chromosome DNA Janowski Messenger RNA strands

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht More genes are active in high-performance maize
19.01.2018 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

nachricht How plants see light
19.01.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Artificial agent designs quantum experiments

On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.

We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.

Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Let the good tubes roll

19.01.2018 | Materials Sciences

How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism

19.01.2018 | Health and Medicine

Meteoritic stardust unlocks timing of supernova dust formation

19.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>