RNA interference (RNAi) is a natural cellular defence and regulation mechanism which works by eliminating unwanted RNA molecules. Its potential for use in therapy was officially recognised last year with the presentation of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Indeed, the first treatments to be based on this mechanism are currently undergoing clinical testing.
Nevertheless, the details of this process still require a great deal of further research and hence, offer potential for optimizing medical treatments based on it.
NO RISC. NO FUN.
It is precisely this potential that a group at the Campus Vienna Biocenter recently tapped in order to clarify key details surrounding the efficiency of RNA interference. Lead scientist Dr. Stefan L. Ameres from the Max F.
Perutz Laboratories (MFPL), Department for Biochemistry at the University of Vienna, explains – "A key stage of RNA interference is the binding of the RNA that is to be cleaved by RISC, the RNA-induced silencing complex.
Already a lot is known about the subsequent destruction of the target RNA by RISC, but we have only little insight into the initial determination as to which RNAs are bound and how exactly this happens. Working with the Institute for Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (IMBA), we have succeeded in making considerable progress towards clarifying this process."
The team initially focussed on characterising the influence of the RNA structure. Variations of an RNA target molecule were created where the RISC binding site became increasingly difficult to access due to structural differences. Dr. Ameres comments on the findings from the experiment: "The results were very clear indeed. The less accessible the binding site, the less efficient the RISC-induced elimination of the target RNA. Based on this data, we concluded that RISC does not possess the means to change the structure of RNA molecules – an important finding towards the effective application of RNAi."Another result was equally important to the understanding of RNA interference. The strength of the interaction between target RNA and RISC must exceed a certain threshold in order to trigger initiation of the subsequent RNA elimination process. This result clearly indicates that RISC binds RNA in a more or less random process and that it is the strength of this bond that determines the subsequent fate of the RNA. "One way of looking at this is that, while binding its target RNA, RISC has to carry out
a check to ensure that it is only certain RNAs that are destroyed," explains Dr. Ameres.
"PH.D. PROGRAM" CAREER OPPORTUNITY
The publication of these results in the journal CELL highlights not just the quality of RNA research at the Max F. Perutz Laboratories (a joint establishment of the University of Vienna and the Medical University of Vienna), but also the high standard of training provided for young scientists in dedicated Ph.D. programs. The publication of these results is also the high point of Dr. Ameres' Ph.D. training, which he has now completed in just this type of program. In fact, a special "RNA Biology" Ph.D. program was established at the Campus Vienna Biocenter in June 2007 to ensure that RNA research there retains its leading position in the long term.
The work of molecular biologist Prof. Renée Schroeder also contributed to this achievement. She supported the work of Dr. Ameres using the prize money from the "Wittgenstein Award" presented to her by the FWF in 2003, thereby making an important financial contribution to the continuation of RNA research at the Campus Vienna Biocenter.
Till C. Jelitto | alfa
Navigational view of the brain thanks to powerful X-rays
18.10.2017 | Georgia Institute of Technology
Separating methane and CO2 will become more efficient
18.10.2017 | KU Leuven
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
18.10.2017 | Materials Sciences
18.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
18.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy