Navigation Links
A question of gene silencing
Date:8/24/2011

When investigating cancer cells, researchers discovered numerous peculiarities: Particular RNA molecules are present in large numbers, particular genes are overactive. Do these characteristics have a relation to cancer? Do they promote cell growth? Do they inactivate growth brakes or are they just a whim of nature? To find clues for answering these questions scientists perform what are called loss-of-function analyses. They knock out (silence) the gene of interest in living cells or whole organisms and subsequently look for any changes in the cells' metabolism, physiology or behavior in order to find out whether specific cellular functions are lost.

"However, what was still missing was a method for selectively silencing those genes that do not code for proteins," said Dr. Sven Diederichs, who is head of a Junior Research Group at DKFZ and at the Institute of Pathology of Heidelberg University. With his team, the molecular biologist has now developed a new method for selectively silencing such non-protein-coding genes and, thus, determining their function. "In many cancers we find that specific non- coding genes are particularly active. Therefore, we want to understand what the RNA molecules transcribed from these genes bring about in the tumor cells."

Diederichs and his team have based their method on the use of zinc finger nucleases. These are engineered protein molecules that cut DNA at precisely defined sites and thus facilitate specific targeting and cutting of genes. Although the cell's repair machinery will re-connect the two ends after the cutting process, silencing works well for protein-coding genes. The repair enzymes usually do not repair the site precisely and insert small defects. This destroys the protein information so that the proteins can no longer be formed.

For non-protein-coding genes, however, such small defects are not relevant. Therefore, mere cutting does not bring the desired result. The repair process simply results in another functioning gene that is transcribed into RNA molecules. The Heidelberg researchers therefore used a trick: The repair proteins are also able to integrate small DNA segments when mending the two ends. Therefore, the molecular biologists integrated a signaling sequence at the site where the gene was cut. This sequence causes the RNA transcript of this gene to be broken down at once so that it is not available for any cellular functions. The resulting changes in cellular biology can then be analyzed comprehensively.

"We are now able, for the first time, to completely silence the non-protein-coding genes and thus study their molecular and cellular functions," said Sven Diederichs when explaining the goal of his research approach. "It is very likely that these genes play an important role in cancer development. We are sure it is not by chance that they are so very active particularly in tumor cells.


'/>"/>

Contact: Dr. Sibylle Kohlstdt
s.kohlstaedt@dkfz.de
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Student brings home new expertise to answer question in antibiotic resistance
2. GEN point of view article questions reported costs of drug R&D
3. Cells do talk to one another, but the question remains how
4. Penn research answers long-standing question about swimming in elastic liquids
5. U of A researcher questions whether genius might be a result of hormonal influences
6. UofL biostatistician to develop statistical model that could help answer medical questions
7. Experts question aspects of prescribed burning
8. Ancient teeth raise new questions about the origins of modern man
9. New Anglo-Swiss research questions impact of GM wheat on insects
10. What is life? New answers to an age-old question in astrobiology
11. New UCLA study raises questions about genetic testing of newborns
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:11/24/2016)... -- Cercacor today introduced Ember TM Sport Premium ... measure hemoglobin, Oxygen Content, Oxygen Saturation, Perfusion Index, ... approximately 30 seconds. Smaller than a smartphone, using only ... key data about their bodies to help monitor these ... Hemoglobin carries oxygen to muscles. When hemoglobin and ...
(Date:11/17/2016)... Global Market Watch: Primarily supported by ... Banks and Academics) market is to witness a value of ... the highest Compounded Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 10.75% is ... analysis period 2014-2020. North America is ... Europe at 9.56% respectively. Report ...
(Date:11/14/2016)... -- xG Technology, Inc. ("xG" or the "Company") (Nasdaq: XGTI, ... use in challenging operating environments, announced its results for ... hold a conference call to discuss these results on ... below). Key Recent Accomplishments ... to acquire Vislink Communication Systems. The purchase is expected ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/2/2016)... , ... December 02, 2016 , ... Robots will storm ... on December 3rd, 2016. The event, which is held on the United Nations ... helping Americans with Disabilities back into the workplace. Suitable Technologies is partnering with NTI ...
(Date:12/2/2016)... world leader in rapid infectious disease tests, introduced the Company,s newest product, the INSTI ... (Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20161201/444905 ) Continue Reading ... ... , bioLytical was invited by the Clinton ... HIV Self Test to 350 pharmacy representatives in Nairobi and ...
(Date:11/30/2016)... York , November 30, 2016 ... as a few players hold a dominant share in ... Charles River Laboratories International, Inc., and Merck KGaA, held ... in 2015. Transparency Market Research observes that these companies ... focused on development products that are do not require ...
(Date:11/30/2016)... SEATTLE , Nov. 30, 2016  The ... Allen Cell Collection: the first publicly available collection ... stem cells that target key cellular structures with ... Medical Research, these powerful tools are a crucial ... cells to better understand what makes human cells ...
Breaking Biology Technology: