Navigation Links
Making enough red blood cells

Monterotondo, 31 May 2010 Red blood cells, the delivery men that take oxygen to cells all around the body, have short lives. To keep enough of them in circulation, the human body produces around 2 million of these cells every second even more in response to challenges like severe blood loss. In a study published today in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, scientists at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Monterotondo, Italy, and EMBL's European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) in Hinxton, UK, have identified two small RNA molecules which ensure that enough red blood cells are produced efficiently, by fine-tuning a number of different genes involved in this process.

"A lot of the effort of blood cell formation, or haematopoiesis, goes into just keeping enough red blood cells in circulation" says Dnal O'Carroll, who led the work at EMBL Monterotondo: "We've identified two molecules that help to do so, and which are essential in challenging situations."

To form red blood cells, large, round cells known as precursors have to become small and disc-shaped, like balls of plasticine squeezed between finger and thumb. In the process, they must also produce the large quantities of haemoglobin that will allow them to transport oxygen, and shrink and dispose of their nucleus. The EMBL scientists found that two microRNAs, called MiR144 and MiR451, control the final stages of this process.

O'Carroll and colleagues genetically engineered mice to have no MiR144 or MiR451. They found that such mice had defects in the final stages of red blood cell formation, but produced red blood cell precursors not only in the bone marrow, but also in large quantities in the spleen. By increasing the number of precursors, the mice compensated for the fact that a smaller percentage of those precursors matured into functional red blood cells, and thus were able to survive with only a mild anaemia.

"Under steady-state conditions, mice without MiR144 or MiR451 can just about produce enough red blood cells, but if you challenge them, by chemically inducing anaemia, most of them don't survive, because in those conditions you just can't live with inefficient red blood cell formation" O'Carroll explains.

O'Carroll and colleagues teamed up with Anton Enright's group at EMBL-EBI, and used a sophisticated bioinformatics approach to understand how these microRNAs act. They found that of the two, MiR451 probably plays a key role in the process, and that it likely does so not by switching a single gene on or off, but by fine-tuning a multitude of genes involved in red blood cell formation.

These microRNA molecules have been conserved throughout vertebrate evolution. They are known to also be important for red blood cell formation in fish, and are likely to play a similar role in humans too. Thus, investigating their function further could help to understand how our own red blood cells are formed, and how defects in that process may lead to conditions such as anaemia.


Contact: Sonia Furtado
European Molecular Biology Laboratory

Related biology news :

1. Coal and black liquor can produce energy from papermaking
2. Another type of nanotube, a how-to guide to making bamboo-structured carbon nanotubes
3. GBIF making the search for biodiversity research resources easier
4. Making sense of antisense microRNAs
5. Is that sea otter stealing your lunch -- or making it?
6. LSU scientist finds evidence of rain-making bacteria
7. Making sure the wonder materials dont become the wonder pollutant
8. Findings a step toward making new optical materials
9. Research suggests parts of UK could be too hot for wine-making by 2080
10. Research suggests parts of UK could be too hot for wine making by 2080
11. Small protein may have big role in making more bone and less fat
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Making enough red blood cells
(Date:11/11/2015)... --  MedNet Solutions , an innovative SaaS-based eClinical technology company ... to announce that it will be a Sponsor of the ... be held November 17-19 in Hamburg , ... iMedNet , MedNet,s easy-to-use, proven and affordable ... been able to deliver time and cost savings of up ...
(Date:11/9/2015)... Nov. 09, 2015 ... of the "Global Law Enforcement Biometrics ... --> ) has announced ... Enforcement Biometrics Market 2015-2019" report to ... Markets ( ) has announced the ...
(Date:11/2/2015)... Nov. 2, 2015  SRI International has been awarded ... preclinical development services to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) ... provide scientific expertise, modern testing and support facilities, and ... pharmacology and toxicology studies to evaluate potential cancer prevention ... The PREVENT Cancer Drug Development Program is an NCI-supported ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/1/2015)... 1, 2015 Vancouver ... lancet that features Owen Mumford,s unique Comfort Zone Technology®. ... Unistik® Touch is a touch activated lancet that features ... Owen Mumford, a leading medical device manufacturer, today unveils ... available initially in the US before expanding out to ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... Dec. 1, 2015 Today the Allen Institute ... Seattle,s South Lake Union neighborhood, the ... Mercer Street and Westlake Avenue North, the 270,000 square ... Institute for Brain Science and the Allen Institute for ... and founder of the Allen Institute. "We started by ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... CAMBRIDGE, Mass. , Dec. 1, 2015 ... and the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT ... system that significantly cut down on "off-target" editing errors. ... issues in the use of genome editing. ... report that changing three of the approximately 1,400 amino ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... -- Twist Bioscience, a company focused on synthetic DNA, today announced ... selected as one of Foreign Policy,s 100 Leading ... of life . Each year, Foreign Policy selects ... have changed lives and are shaping the world. ... to be recognized among these incredible global leaders," said Leproust. ...
Breaking Biology Technology: