RNA, the transporter of genetic information within the cell, has emerged from the shadow of DNA to become one of the hottest research areas of molecular biology, with implications for many diseases as well as understanding of evolution. But the field is complex, requiring access to the latest equipment and techniques of imaging, gene expression analysis and bioinformatics, as well as cross-pollination between multiple scientific disciplines. This has led to a major European push to bring the field together via a network of overlapping multidisciplinary projects, spearheaded by the European Science Foundation (ESF) with its EUROCORES Programme RNAQuality.
The great potential of the RNA research field to solve a variety of fundamental problems relevant for understanding of life and predicting cures for diseases was unleashed at the RNAQuality Programme's first conference, held in Granada in June 2008. As well as many European groups, the conference was represented by leading pioneers from the US in the field, who welcomed the new initiative as an important collaborative force.
RNA was once considered to be just the faithful messenger taking genetic information from the genome to the ribosome, or protein factory, but that view has been blown away by recent research. It is now known that RNA has additional roles in regulating gene expression and as an important structural component both in the cell nucleus and in the ribosomes. Furthermore, errors in transcribing RNA from DNA are frequent and require a variety of elaborate quality control mechanisms to prevent both mis-regulation of genes, and manufacture of aberrant RNA and protein fragments that clog up the workings of the cell, and that if unchecked can cause a variety of disorders, including cancers.
Delegates at the conference also heard how there is great potential for creating new compounds that manipulate the cell's apparatus for transcribing DNA into RNA to overcome a number of
|Contact: Angela Michiko Hama|
European Science Foundation