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Bioinformatics experts at the CNIO explore additional coding potential hidden in the human genome
Date:6/18/2012

  • Alfonso Valencia's group discover proteins made by combining different genes in healthy cells and tissues

  • To date this has been considered a rarity confined to anomalous processes like cancer

  • The authors believe their finding opens a new line of research inquiry with multiple implications in Human Genomics and cancer

Sequencing the human genome was just the first step. The next challenge is of the kind that makes history: to decode the genome, and understand how the information needed to construct a human being can be packaged into a single molecule. And there are a lot more than loose ends in the way of a solution. A group of bioinformatics experts at the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) in Madrid have published findings which point to still unexplored coding potential within the genome.

The substance responsible is chimeric RNA, formed not from one gene but from fragments of several. "There is growing evidence, some of it very recent, that genome coding is more complicated than we thought, and that some RNAs may combine information from two distinct genes," explains Alfonso Valencia, head of the CNIO's Structural Biology and Biocomputing Program. "We have called them chimeric RNAs after the mythological beings made from the parts of two different animals," he relates.

The research has been carried out in collaboration with scientists from the Centro de Regulacin Genmica (CRG) in Barcelona. "We noted the prevalence of this phenomenon back in 2006, and are now working to establish its biological importance", remarks Roderic Guig, coordinator of the CRG's Bioinformatics and Genomics program.

DNA contains the genes, which are translated into proteins. RNA, meantime, serves as an intermediary molecule performing what is an indispensable step in the process: before a gene can be translated into a protein, the right RNA has to be built. The classical vision of how information is
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Contact: Juan J. Gomez
juanj.gomez@cnio.es
34-917-328-000
Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Oncologicas (CNIO)
Source:Eurekalert

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