Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

NYU’s Center for Comparative Functional Genomics helps to unravel the function of microRNAS

01.07.2005


MicroRNAs are a recently discovered large class of small, non-coding genes. Each animal genome contains hundreds of these genes, which have been shown to regulate the expression of protein coding genes by binding to partially complementary sites in messenger RNAs. However, little is known about the biological function of these tiny genes, which are encoded in a string of 21 to 24 DNA bases.



In a series of four high-profile papers in Nature, Nature Genetics, Developmental Biology, and PloS Computational Biology published over the past 15 months, researchers at New York University’s Center for Comparative Functional Genomics have shed light on the function and evolution of microRNA across a wide set of genomes. Their newest findings appear in the inaugural issue of Public Library of Science’s journal, PloS Computational Biology.

This study, headed by NYU Assistant Biology Professor Nikolaus Rajewsky, included researchers Dominic Grün, Yi-Lu Wang, and David Langenberger, and Research Assistant Professor Kristin Gunsalus, all at NYU’s Center for Comparative Functional Genomics. By comparing seven recently sequenced fly species, they found that thousands of genes in the genome of a laboratory model organism--the fruit fly--are likely to be regulated by microRNAs.


The researchers could also predict a specific biological function for 70 percent of all of these microRNAs. The predictions in the study are publicly available at pictar.bio.nyu.edu/. The paper also shows that microRNAs that are conserved between flies and mammals are likely to target the same proportion of genes in each species, although the number of conserved regulatory relationships is relatively small.

These findings hint at a significantly larger role for microRNAs during evolution. Evolutionary changes in which genes are targeted by certain microRNAs could thus help to explain differences between species, implicating that microRNAs could be part of genes that drive organismal diversity. In particular, one microRNA was shown to have many more targets in flies than in mammals, and this microRNA was predicted to contribute to the regulation of fly oogenesis, a process that is highly different between flies and mammals.

The paper may be obtained at compbiol.plosjournals.org/

In carrying out the study, the Rajewsky group developed "PicTar," a new algorithm for the identification of microRNA target sites in the genome (published in Nature Genetics, spring 2005). The PicTar algorithm was based on a paper by Rajewsky, who also holds an affiliated appointment at NYU’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, and his collaborator Nicholas Socci published in Developmental Biology in 2004, where they discovered key components of microRNA--target site recognition. When applying PicTar to seven vertebrate genomes, their Nature Genetics study found that each microRNA regulates, on average, 200 different human transcripts and that multiple microRNAs can coordinate their activities to regulate a specific target genes. Altogether, they showed that 20 to 30 percent of all vertebrate genes are likely to be regulated by microRNAS. The paper contains detailed genome-wide target predictions for all human microRNAs as well as tissue-specific predictions. Several predictions were validated experimentally by Rajewsky’s collaborators at Rockefeller University. The findings demonstrate an unforeseen, staggering complexity of gene regulation executed by microRNAs on a genome-wide level.

Finally, collaborating with researchers at Rockefeller University, Lund University (Sweden), and Oxford University, Rajewsky recently helped to unravel the function of a microRNA gene that was shown to regulate the secretion of insulin in the pancreas. The findings, which for the first time defined a physiological function for a mammalian microRNA gene, were published last fall in Nature. In the study, predicted gene targets for miR-375 were verified experimentally, thereby making an important contribution for understanding miR-375 function in regulating insulin secretion, and potentially opening the door for new ways to treat diabetes.

James Devitt | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nyu.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves
17.08.2018 | Leibniz Universität Hannover

nachricht First transcription atlas of all wheat genes expands prospects for research and cultivation
17.08.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Pflanzengenetik und Kulturpflanzenforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Smallest transistor worldwide switches current with a single atom in solid electrolyte

17.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Robots as Tools and Partners in Rehabilitation

17.08.2018 | Information Technology

Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves

17.08.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>