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:12/20/2016)... , Dec. 20, 2016 The ... sharing, rental and leasing is stoking significant interest ... radio frequency technology, Bluetooth low energy (BLE), biometrics ... as the next wave of wireless technologies in ... access system to advanced access systems opens the ...
(Date:12/16/2016)... , Dec. 16, 2016 The global wearable medical ... 12.14 billion by 2021 from USD 5.31 billion in 2016, at ... ... mainly driven by technological advancements in medical devices, launch of a ... preference for wireless connectivity among healthcare providers, and increasing focus on ...
(Date:12/15/2016)... Mich. , Dec. 15, 2016  There is ... car doors or starting the engine. Continental will demonstrate ... Las Vegas . Through the combination ... Start and Entry) and biometric elements, the international technology ... of vehicle personalization and authentication. "The integration ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:1/11/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... January 11, 2017 , ... ... international society for optics and photonics , are commending the U.S. Congress and ... the signing Friday by the President of the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act ...
(Date:1/11/2017)... Ca (PRWEB) , ... January 11, 2017 , ... ... in pathogens are observed in clinical settings, it is becoming increasingly clear that ... An over-reliance on culture-based methods, the standard in the study of clinical resistance, ...
(Date:1/11/2017)... PA (PRWEB) , ... January 11, 2017 , ... ... entrepreneur can make all the difference when navigating the challenges young businesses face. ... tap into the extensive expertise and experience of Geoff DiMasi, Founder and Principal ...
(Date:1/11/2017)... ... January 11, 2017 , ... Advanced Polymer Monitoring Technologies (APMT) ... Bartylla will lead European initiatives for APMT’s product lines serving polymer and biopharmaceutical ... to European manufacturers and researchers. Bernhard brings significant experience in our application areas ...
Breaking Biology Technology: