Navigation Links
NYU researchers simulate molecular biological clock

For many years, DNA and proteins have been viewed as the real movers and shakers in genomic studies, with RNA seen as little more than a messenger that shuttles information between the two. But researchers from Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and Massachusetts Institute of Technology have discovered that small RNA molecules called microRNAs regulate thousands of human genes--more than one third of the genome's protein-coding regions. In other words, a class of molecule once relegated to the sidelines may be one of the principal players in regulating cellular mechanisms.

"It's exciting to see how many genes are regulated by microRNAs. We now know that this type of gene control is much more widespread than previously appreciated," says Whitehead Member and MIT professor of biology David Bartel. MicroRNAs interrupt a gene's ability to make protein. These tiny, single-stranded pieces of RNA are newcomers to biological research. It wasn't until 2000 that researchers even knew that microRNAs existed in humans. Now, in the January 14 edition of the journal Cell, Benjamin Lewis, a graduate student working jointly with Whitehead's Bartel and MIT associate professor of biology Christopher Burge, provides the first evidence that microRNAs influence a large percentage of life's functions. The team developed a computational method to define the relationship between microRNAs and their target genes. In December 2003, the same group identified 400 genes in the human genome targeted by microRNAs. (Prior to this study, there were no known microRNA targets in any vertebrate.) In their latest paper, taking advantage of the most recent genome-sequencing data, the team has compared human genome data with that of the dog, chicken, mouse, and rat. For each of the microRNAs and protein-coding genes that are common to these five species, the team looked for correspondence between the microRNAs and the protein-coding genes. They discovered that regulation of a third of th ese genes has been preserved since the last common ancestor of mammals and chicken, which lived 310 million years ago. "This study is an excellent example of the power of comparative genomics to illuminate how human genes are regulated," says Burge. "As more genome data becomes available and the technology becomes more sophisticated, I think we'll find that even more genes are targeted by microRNAs," predicts Lewis. In addition, the team discovered some hints about how microRNAs find their targets. To produce a protein, the cell first makes a template for that protein by constructing a molecule called messenger RNA. MicroRNAs inhibit protein production by associating themselves with particular messenger RNAs, thereby reducing the amount of protein that's ultimately produced. In this study, the researchers determined which portion of the microRNA is most important for this process, and identified additional determinants in the messenger RNA that are likely to contribute to recognition by microRNAs. These findings contribute to the recent interest in potential therapeutic uses of RNA. For example, using a technique known as RNA interference, or RNAi, researchers are shutting off genes by delivering into cells artificial microRNA-like molecules called siRNAs. RNAi has already transformed how many labs are investigating gene functions, and siRNAs are being developed for clinical applications. Learning more about how microRNAs operate in human cells should help scientists to understand how best to exploit siRNAs for treating disease.


Related biology news :

1. Vital step in cellular migration described by UCSD medical researchers
2. ASU researchers finds novel chemistry at work to provide parrots vibrant red colors
3. UCSD researchers maintain stem cells without contaminated animal feeder layers
4. Why do insects stop breathing? To avoid damage from too much oxygen, say researchers
5. New protein discovered by Hebrew University researchers
6. First real-time view of developing neurons reveals surprises, say Stanford researchers
7. Agilent Technologies releases automated literature search tool for biology researchers
8. Self-assembled nano-sized probes allow Penn researchers to see tumors through flesh and skin
9. Yale researchers identify molecule for detecting parasitic infection in humans
10. US life expectancy about to decline, researchers say
11. Wisconsin researchers identify sleep gene

Post Your Comments:

(Date:10/29/2015)... YORK , Oct. 29, 2015 ... technology, announced a partnership with 2XU, a global ... to deliver a smart hat with advanced bio-sensing ... and other athletes to monitor key biometrics to ... the strategic partnership, the two companies will bring together ...
(Date:10/27/2015)... BERLIN, Germany , October 27, 2015 ... 2015. SMI,s Automated Semantic Gaze Mapping technology (ASGM) automatically ... SMI,s Eye Tracking Glasses , so that ... Suite BeGaze. --> Munich, Germany ... technology (ASGM) automatically maps data from mobile eye tracking ...
(Date:10/26/2015)... India , October 26, 2015 ... --> adds ... 2015 to 2021 as well as ... 2015-2019 research reports to its collection ... . --> ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ - Aeterna Zentaris Inc. (NASDAQ:  AEZS) (TSX: ... behalf of the Toronto Stock Exchange, confirms that as ... no corporate developments that would cause the recent movements ... --> About Aeterna Zentaris Inc. ... --> Aeterna Zentaris is a specialty biopharmaceutical company ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... This fall, global software solutions leader SAP ... states to develop and pitch their BIG ideas to improve health and wellness in ... for votes to win the title of SAP's Teen Innovator, an all-expenses paid trip ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... , November 24, 2015 ... market research report released by Transparency Market Research, the ... at a CAGR of 17.5% during the period between ... Market - Global Industry Analysis, Size, Volume, Share, Growth, ... non-invasive prenatal testing market to reach a valuation of ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... , Nov. 24, 2015  Twist Bioscience, ... that Emily Leproust, Ph.D., Twist Bioscience chief executive ... Healthcare Conference on December 1, 2015 at 3:10 ... in New York City. --> ... . Twist Bioscience is on Twitter. Sign ...
Breaking Biology Technology: