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MIT reports new twist in microRNA biology
Date:1/11/2008

A strands encode functional RNA products, had never even been hypothesized, Kellis says. But followup work confirmed that they did indeed function in this way. The work suggests that other such unexpected pairings, with both DNA strands encoding important functions, may also exist in a variety of species.

This discovery builds on a similar, earlier surprising finding about microRNA regulation. In December, Stark and Kellis reported that both arms of a single microRNA hairpin can also produce distinct, functional microRNAs, with distinct targets. Together, these two findings suggest that a single gene can encode as many as four different functions - one hairpin from each of the two DNA strands, and then one microRNA from each of the two arms of each hairpin.

These recent papers are the latest example of the power of using computational tools to investigate the genomes of multiple species, known as comparative genomics. The Kellis group has used this approach to discover protein-coding genes, RNAs, microRNAs, regulatory motifs, and targets of individual regulators in diverse organisms ranging from yeast and fruit flies to mouse and human.

This represents a new phase in genomics-making biological discoveries sitting not at the lab bench, but at the computer terminal, Kellis says.


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Contact: Elizabeth Thomson
thomson@mit.edu
617-258-5402
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Source:Eurekalert

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