02 February 2009

New Surprises From Non-Coding RNA

There is a lot more to genetics than the old dogma: DNA makes RNA makes protein. One of the complications to the old way of genetics thinking is non-coding RNA (see here and here). A team of scientists from Harvard, MIT, and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center has discovered yet another type of non-coding RNA -- with potentially huge ramifications.
A research team at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center has uncovered a vast new class of previously unrecognized mammalian genes that do not encode proteins, but instead function as long RNA molecules. Their findings, presented in the February 1st advance online issue of the journal Nature, demonstrate that this novel class of "large intervening non-coding RNAs" or "lincRNAs" plays critical roles in both health and disease, including cancer, immune signaling and stem cell biology...

...the newly discovered lincRNAs are thousands of bases long. Because only about ten examples of functional lincRNAs were known previously, they seemed more like genomic oddities than critical components. The new Nature study shows that there are actually thousands of such genes and that they have been conserved across mammalian evolution.

...By correlating the expression patterns of lincRNAs in various cell types with the expression patterns of known critical protein-coding genes in those same cells, the scientists observed that lincRNAs likely play critical roles in helping to regulate a variety of different cellular processes, including cell proliferation, immune surveillance, maintenance of embryonic stem cell pluripotency, neuronal and muscle development, and gametogenesis. Further experimental evidence from several of the identified lincRNAs verified these observations. _MNT
The researchers commented that the genes that encode lincRNAs are "hiding in plain site", and expect to find a lot more of them. The discovery of important new components of gene expression comes as an invigorating "slap in the face" to genetics researchers already overwhelmed by the mass of data being generated in the field. Such discoveries amount to "new territory to conquer," with potential for scientific breakthroughs and Nobel Prizes.


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