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CSHL scientists find a new class of small RNAs and define its function
Date:1/26/2009

Cold Spring Harbor, NY Researchers at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) announced today the discovery of a new class of small RNAs. At the same time, they reported that their discovery suggests the presence of a strikingly novel biochemical pathway for RNA processing in which these and possibly other small RNAs are produced. The research, which is part of a multinational project called ENCODE, also provided information concerning the biological function of the new short RNA class.

The team's findings, which appeared online January 25th, ahead of print, in the journal Nature, significantly improve our understanding of how functional information is stored in the genome. The work at CSHL was spearheaded by Professors Thomas Gingeras, Ph.D., a leader of ENCODE, and Gregory Hannon, Ph.D., a world-renowned expert in small RNAs.

"These results are a good illustration of why the ENCODE project was established," says Dr. Gingeras. "They show how collaborative projects can reveal functional elements and mechanisms embodied in the genome that have never before been described."

Exploring vast, non-coding regions of the genome

At the conclusion of the Human Genome Project in 2003, scientists published a final draft of the DNA sequence found within healthy human cells an assemblage of roughly 3 billion "As" "Ts" "Cs" and "Gs." While justifiably proud of the feat, genome scientists knew that the most interesting part of their task was just beginning.

Using the published 2003 sequence, they were able to specify across the entire genome which stretches of DNA comprised genes regions that act as blueprints for the manufacture of proteins. To the surprise of many, those regions accounted for only about 2% of the genome. Following that realization, most of the remaining 98% began to look more like terra incognita than conquered territory.

To define the full set of genomic elements that perform fun
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Contact: Peter Tarr
tarr@cshl.edu
516-367-8455
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

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