"Finding that small RNAs comprise a potent set of regulatory molecules in diverse organisms is among the most important discoveries in the past 10 years," stated John West, Solexa's chief executive officer. "This research is pioneering in its ability to characterize these important regulatory molecules on a genome-wide scale."
Solexa's technology has the advantage of producing highly accurate, reproducible and quantitative readouts of the full complement of activated genes and small RNAs, including genes expressed at low levels, without requiring advance knowledge of the genes or sequences of interest. Solexa performed this research in its Genomic Services business unit. The Company also intends to develop this small RNA assay for use with its next-generation sequencing platform, which is scheduled to be introduced to the market by the end of this year.
Using Solexa's unique high-throughput sequencing technology, the study identified over 77,000 unique small RNAs in Arabidopsis plants, 10 times more than previously known. This study, funded by the National Science Foundation, generated more than two million short DNA sequences, known as signature sequences or sequence tags, to identify and quantify both known and novel small RNA molecules. Many regions of the Arabidopsis genome previously considered to be inactive or featureless were found to be sites of considerable small RNA activity.
"The signature sequencing approach makes possib le the study of global identity, regulation and function of small RNA populations in diverse organisms. This extensive small RNA data will help biologists understand small RNAs and their regulation," said Blake Meyers, an Assistant Professor at the University of Delaware and a senior author on the study. "We have also released an enhanced version of our Arabidopsis MPSS website (http://mpss.udel.edu/at) to further facilitate public access and use of these data."
"These experiments underscore the importance of studying the entire genome for evidence of small RNA activity. The newly discovered small RNAs that match to genes are exciting, but so are those that derive from relatively featureless regions between genes," added Pamela J. Green, a professor at the University of Delaware and the Delaware Biotechnology Institute, another senior author on the study.