Navigation Links
UT Southwestern researchers identify new targets for RNAs that regulate genes
Date:7/6/2008

DALLAS July 6, 2008 Tiny strands of genetic material called RNA a chemical cousin of DNA are emerging as major players in gene regulation, the process inside cells that drives all biology and that scientists seek to control in order to fight disease.

The idea that RNA (ribonucleic acid) is involved in activating and inhibiting genes is relatively new, and it has been unclear how RNA strands might regulate the process.

In a new study available online today and in a future issue of Nature Structural and Molecular Biology, RNA experts at UT Southwestern Medical Center found that, contrary to established theories, RNA can interact with a non-gene region of DNA called a promoter region, a sequence of DNA occurring spatially in front of an actual gene. This promoter must be activated before a gene can be turned on.

"Our findings about the underlying mechanisms of RNA-activated gene expression reveal a new and unexpected target for potential drug development," said Dr. David Corey, professor of pharmacology and biochemistry at UT Southwestern and one of the senior authors of the study.

Genes are segments of DNA housed in the nucleus of every cell, and they carry instructions for making proteins. Faulty or mutated genes lead to malfunctioning, missing or overabundant proteins, and any of those conditions can result in disease. Scientists seek to understand the mechanisms by which genes are activated, or expressed, and turned off in order to get a clearer picture of basic cell biology and also to develop medical therapies that affect gene expression.

In previous studies, Dr. Corey and Dr. Bethany Janowski, assistant professor of pharmacology at UT Southwestern and a senior author of the current study, have shown that tiny strands of RNA can be used to activate certain genes in cultured cancer cells. Using strands of RNA that they manufactured in the lab, the researchers showed that the strands regulate gene expression by somehow perturbing a delicate mixture of proteins that surround DNA and control whether or not genes are activated.

Until now, however, it was not clear exactly how the synthetic RNA strands affected that mix of regulating proteins.

In the current study, also carried out in cancer cell cultures, the UT Southwestern research team discovered an unexpected target for the manufactured RNA. The RNA did not home in on the gene itself, but rather on another type of RNA produced by the cell, a so-called noncoding RNA transcript. This type of RNA is found in association with the promoter regions that occur in front of the gene. Promoter regions, when activated, act essentially as a "start" command for turning on genes.

The researchers found that their man-made RNA strand bound to the RNA transcript, which then recruited certain proteins to form an RNA-protein complex. The whole complex then bound to the promoter region, an action that could then either activate or inhibit gene expression.

"Involvement of RNA at a gene promoter is a new concept, potentially a big new concept," Dr. Janowski said. "Interactions at gene promoters are critical for understanding disease, and our results bring a new dimension to understanding how genes can be regulated."

Until recently, many scientists believed that proteins alone control gene expression at promoters, but Drs. Corey and Janowski's results suggest that this assumption is not necessarily true.

"By demonstrating how small RNAs can be used to recruit proteins to gene promoters, we have provided further evidence that this phenomenon should be in the mainstream of science," Dr. Corey said.

Although using synthetic RNA to regulate gene expression and possibly treat disease in humans is still in the future, Dr. Corey noted that the type of man-made RNA molecules employed by the UT Southwestern team are already being used in human clinical trials, so progress toward the development of gene-regulating drugs could move quickly.


'/>"/>

Contact: Amanda Siegfried
amanda.siegfried@utsouthwestern.edu
214-648-3404
UT Southwestern Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. UT Southwestern researchers identify hundreds of genes controlling female fertility
2. BMI criteria for obesity surgery should be lowered, UT Southwestern researcher suggests
3. UT Southwestern secures $5 million NIH grant for lupus research
4. UT Southwestern scientist honored among best in Texas research
5. Stem-cell transplantation improves muscles in MD animal model, UT Southwestern researchers report
6. NIH awards $6.5 million grant to UT Southwestern to develop new antibiotic
7. UT Southwesterns Mangelsdorf elected to National Academy of Sciences
8. Gene mutations in mice mimic human-like sleep disorder, UT Southwestern researchers find
9. Mouse model developed at UT Southwestern mimics hyperglycemia, aids in diabetes research
10. Geology and biology meet in the history of US southwestern desert surface waters
11. UT Southwestern researchers create molecule that nudges nerve stem cells to mature
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
UT Southwestern researchers identify new targets for RNAs that regulate genes
(Date:4/13/2017)... MONICA, Calif. , April 13, 2017 ... New York will feature emerging and evolving ... Summits. Both Innovation Summits will run alongside the expo ... of speaker sessions, panels and demonstrations focused on trending ... coast,s largest advanced design and manufacturing event will take ...
(Date:4/11/2017)... April 11, 2017 Crossmatch®, a globally-recognized ... solutions, today announced that it has been awarded ... Projects Activity (IARPA) to develop next-generation Presentation Attack ... "Innovation has been a driving force within ... will allow us to innovate and develop new ...
(Date:4/11/2017)... , April 11, 2017 No two ... researchers at the New York University Tandon School ... Engineering have found that partial similarities between prints ... used in mobile phones and other electronic devices ... The vulnerability lies in the fact that ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/12/2017)... , ... October 12, 2017 , ... ... with the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries to improve patient outcomes and quality of ... trends in analytical testing are being attributed to new regulatory requirements for all ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... , ... Personal eye wash is a basic first aid supply for any work environment, but ... do you rinse first if a dangerous substance enters both eyes? It’s one less decision, ... its unique dual eye piece. , “Whether its dirt and debris, or an acid or ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ROTTERDAM, the Netherlands and LAGUNA HILLS, ... that The Institute of Cancer Research, London ... will use MMprofiler™ with SKY92, SkylineDx,s prognostic tool to risk-stratify ... high-risk trial known as MUK nine . The University ... this trial, which is partly funded by Myeloma UK, and ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... , ... October 10, 2017 , ... San Diego-based team ... its corporate rebranding initiative announced today. The bold new look is part of ... the company moves into a significant growth period. , It will also expand its ...
Breaking Biology Technology: