Since small RNA molecules were discovered just over ten years ago, it has become clear that these once overlooked bits of genetic material play a decidedly large role in controlling gene expression and thus regulating a diverse array of cellular processes. They typically accomplish these tasks by targeting specific nucleotide sequences to shut down gene expression, and scientists are now starting to apply related strategies to inactivate specific genes for research and therapeutic purposes (see related feature article by Richard Robinson at http://www.plosbiology.org/plosonline/?request=get-document&doi=10.1371/journal.pbio.0020028).
Yet much remains to be learned about the details of small-RNA-mediated silencing, and a study lead by James Carrington (Oregon State University) and Steve Jacobsen (UCLA) now demonstrates that plants have evolved multiple systems to produce distinct classes of small RNAs with specialized functions. These include genome maintenance, the regulation of specific endogenous target genes, and defense against viral and transposon sequences. These results shed light on the evolution of RNA-mediated gene silencing and have implications for the adaptation of such silencing strategies for various purposes.
Philip Bernstein | EurekAlert!
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Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.
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Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.
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On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.
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