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
Modern genetic sequencing tools give clearer picture of how corals are related
17.08.2017 | University of Washington
The irresistible fragrance of dying vinegar flies
16.08.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für chemische Ökologie
Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.
As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...
For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...
An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...
A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
16.08.2017 | Event News
04.08.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Event News
17.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
17.08.2017 | Earth Sciences
17.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy