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Need microRNA processing? Get Smad
Date:6/11/2008

rs of the TGFβ family, the researchers were able to observe that, over time, levels of pre-miR-21 and mature miR-21 increased, while levels of pri-miR-21 did not change. "Since pri-miR-21 levels did not change, we concluded that the TGFβ family of growth factors doesn't begin to play a role in miRNA processing until the pri-miRNA to pre-miRNA step," explains Hata, who is also an investigator in the Molecular Cardiology Research Institute (MCRI) at Tufts Medical Center.

"Smad proteins were thought to act exclusively by regulating the transcription of DNA into messenger RNA (mRNA) in response to TGFβ signaling. This finding reveals a new role of Smad proteins as regulators of miRNA processing," comments Giorgio Lagna, PhD, co-author, investigator in the MCRI at Tufts Medical Center and also an assistant professor at Tufts University School of Medicine. "If we want to generate a drug that regulates signaling by TGFβ, we now have the option to target different pathways downstream of TGFβ and achieve much more specific outcomes."

MiRNAs are small gene products that regulate gene expression by interaction with mRNA. The role of mRNA in a cell is to carry the instructions for making proteins from the DNA in the nucleus to another part of the cell where the instructions are carried out and the proteins are made. "Thus, cells with abnormal miRNA levels may have abnormal protein levels, putting the organism at risk for many diseases including cancer and cardiovascular disorders. More research needs to be done to elucidate further the roles of miR-21 and other miRNA molecules," explains Hata "because better understanding of how miRNAs effect disease may lead to a clearer understanding of disease initiation and progression."


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Contact: Siobhan Gallagher
617-636-6586
Tufts University, Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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