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Bits of 'junk' RNA aid master tumor-suppressor gene
Date:8/23/2007

portance of messenger RNA (mRNA), which carries protein-making instructions. However, until recently, little was known about micro RNA genes. It is now well recognized that miRNAs regulate the levels of mRNAs, and/or the levels of the proteins produced from mRNAs.

The U-M research team studied the roles of the three genes that make up the miRNA34 family. They showed that the miRNA34 genes work in concert with p53, then went on to explore which other genes the family regulates. They found the miRNA34 genes showed pronounced effects on other genes that control the timing of cell proliferation and division. They also found that the miRNA34 gene family regulated the levels of the Bcl-2 protein, a key factor that enhances a cells resistance to death-inducing stimuli.

The team went on to determine if expression of the miRNA34 genes was compromised in human lung cancer cells.

We found that expression of two of the miRNA34 genes was lost in almost two-thirds of lung adenocarcinomas, says Bommer.

Adenocarcinomas represent the most common type of non-small cell lung cancer, which is the most frequently diagnosed type of lung cancer. When expression of the miRNA34 genes was restored in lung cancer cells, some of the aberrant growth properties were inhibited.

The discoveries of the role of micro RNAs in tumor suppression could have implications for future cancer therapies.

Its important to note that micro RNAs alone are not likely to offer new cancer treatment or prevention agents, says Fearon, who is the Emanual N Maisel Professor of Oncology, Professor of Internal Medicine, Professor of Pathology and Professor of Human Genetics at the U-M Medical School.

However, because of the small size of mature miRNAs, there is optimism that it may be possible to deliver modified nucleic acids that might mimic the effect of the miRNAs, he says. If modified nucleic acids were to prove effective in more laboratory stu
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Contact: Anne Rueter
arueter@umich.edu
734-764-2220
University of Michigan Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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