27 February 2006

Noncoding RNA--To Activate Genes, Influence Differentiation

Noncoding RNA has been used by researchers to silence specific genes for years. Now researchers from UC Riverside and Institut für Molekulare Immunologie in Munich, have learned more about the versatility of noncoding RNAs, and ways in which genes can be activated by them.

Frank Sauer in Riverside and Elisabeth Kremmer in Munich, have been studying the molecular mechanisms for cell differentiation in the fruit fly, Drosophila. They have been focusing on epigenetic factors, primarily protein gene activators. This research is reported in the Feb. 24 edition of the journal Science. This Eurekalert newsrelease gives more information:

The paper explains how proteins, known as epigenetic activators (such as Ash1 from the fruit fly Drosophila), bind to their target DNA and activate genes that determine what function a cell will have in the body.

"The fact that these epigenetic activators, such as Ash1, turn on the expression of specific target genes has been known for some time. However, the mechanisms by which epigenetic activators recognize and bind these target genes was not yet known" Sauer pointed out

"What we were able to show is that the epigenetic activator Ash1is recruited to a target gene through cell-type specific non-coding RNA" he said.

The paper examined how the activator Ash1 binds to target DNA elements, known as Trithorax-reponse elements (TREs), located in the gene Ultrabithorax (Ubx). Non-coding RNA is produced by and retained at the TREs of Ubx, and helps activate the expression of the Ubx gene by attracting Ash1 to the TREs. The transgenic transcription of non-coding TRE RNA can change the type and function of cells.

"As a result, we can now use non-coding RNAs as tools to actively determine cell fate," Sauer said. "Over the last few years, researchers have focused on how noncoding RNAs silence genes," said Anthony Carter, of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, which partially funded the research. "Dr. Sauer's work has revealed that noncoding RNAs have a broader range of functions than was previously known, and suggests a model for how they can help activate, rather than silence, a key regulator of animal development."

Read the entire newsrelease here.

If scientists can learn to differentiate and de-differentiate various cell types at will, the keys to controlling cancer, and cell replacement for aging treatments (SENS etc), will be at hand. This type of research is an important step.


Bookmark and Share


Post a Comment

“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

<< Home

Newer Posts Older Posts