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MicroRNA controls mammary gland development in mice
Date:11/9/2010

This release is available in German.

Hormones, growth factors and several proteins ensure that development occurs in the right way, at the right time. The components that cause breast development in mammals, for example, were thought to be largely known. However, as a team of scientists from Gttingen, Frankfurt and Hanover have now discovered, in the case of breast development, hormones and proteins do not account for the full story. The scientists have shown that tiny ribonucleic acid molecules play a key role in this process. The mammary glands of mice lacking the gene for the microRNAs 212 and 132 failed to grow at puberty. (Nature Genetics, Nov. 7, 2010)

The scientists have demonstrated for the first time in an animal model that small ribonucleic acid molecules, so-called microRNAs, also fulfil an important function in organ development. "This came as a surprise to us," says project leader Kamal Chowdhury from the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Gttingen. "The mice used in our experiments had all of the hormones, growth factors and proteins that ensure normal breast development. But the absence of the microRNAs miR-212 and miR-132 resulted in the complete failure of duct development in the mammary glands of mice."

It is well known that microRNAs perform very important regulatory functions inside living cells. Although they do not code for proteins, they are responsible for the fine-tuning of the production of certain proteins and intervene extensively in metabolic processes. The question is however: how does this activity shape the morphology of the whole organism? "Using various experiments, we were able to demonstrate that this RNA family plays a key role in mammary gland development and we could locate where these molecules presumably intervene on a regulatory basis," explains Chowdhury.

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Contact: Kamal Chowdhury
kchowdh@gwdg.de
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert  

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