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RNA snippets control protein production by disabling mRNAs
Date:8/16/2010

FINDINGS: Short pieces of RNA, called microRNAs, control protein production primarily by causing the proteins' RNA templates (known as messenger RNA or mRNA) to be disabled by the cell, according to Whitehead Institute scientists.

RELEVANCE: Researchers have known that mammalian microRNAs control protein production by causing the mRNAs to degrade, but they have wondered how much additional effects microRNAs impart by jamming the process that translates mRNAs into proteins. These results from a genome-wide study indicate that scientists can accurately study microRNA function and corresponding gene targets through examination of mRNA levels, which is easier than examining protein levels.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (August 16, 2010) Short pieces of RNA, called microRNAs, control protein production by causing the proteins' RNA templates (known as messenger RNA or mRNA) to be disabled by the cell, according to Whitehead Institute scientists.

Researchers have known that mammalian microRNAs control protein production by causing the mRNAs to degrade but they have wondered how much additional effects microRNAs impart by jamming the process that translates mRNAs into proteins.

For Whitehead Institute Member David Bartel, his lab's genome-wide research helps answer this question and will serve as a foundation for future research.

"These results reveal the ultimate outcome of microRNA regulation of many genes and provide a framework for us to think about how microRNAs are acting," says Bartel. "Also, we're more confident that you can learn which genes are regulated by a microRNA simply by looking at the mRNA levels, which is much easier to do than looking at protein levels."

This is the first time regulation of so many natural targets of microRNAs has been studied in such exacting detail. The Bartel lab's results are published this week in Nature.

A cell uses each microRNA to dampen the protein productio
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Contact: Nicole Giese
giese@wi.mit.edu
617-258-6851
Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research
Source:Eurekalert

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