Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

MicroRNAs Grease The Cell's Circadian Clockwork

Date:
June 10, 2009
Source:
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Summary:
New research reveals a role for the liver-specific microRNA, miR-122, in the circadian regulation of lipid metabolism.

In the June 1 issue of Genes & Development, Dr. Ueli Schibler and colleagues reveal a role for the liver-specific microRNA, miR-122, in the circadian regulation of lipid metabolism.

Related Articles


Most of our cells possess an internal clock, a group of genes displaying a cyclic expression pattern that reaches a peak once a day. A large number of circadian genes are expressed by organs such as the liver, whose activity needs to be precisely regulated over the course of the day. A team of researchers of the National Centre of Competence in Research Frontiers in Genetics, based at the University of Geneva, Switzerland, reveals that an important regulator of this molecular oscillator is a specific microRNA. The latter belongs to a class of small RNA molecules that regulate the production of proteins in our cells. Thus far, little was known about their function within the circadian clockwork. The study by Ueli Schibler's team fills in this important gap.

Living beings have adapted to the alternation between night and day by developing an internal clock, located in the brain. It allows synchronising gene expression and physiological functions with geophysical time. In addition, most of our body's cells possess their own subsidiary oscillators, a group of genes displaying a cyclic expression pattern that reaches a peak every twenty-four hours.

More than 350 genes involved in metabolism, including that of cholesterol and lipids, are expressed in liver cells in a cyclic fashion. Many of them are also influenced by rhythmic food intake. Their activity must therefore be fine-tuned and synchronised with precision to ensure cohesion between diverse metabolic processes.

MicroRNAs induce gene silencing

Ueli Schibler, from the Molecular Biology Department of the University of Geneva, focuses on the mechanisms controlling the tiny oscillators in liver cells. MicroRNAs were among the potential factors likely to be involved in clock gene regulation. The common property of these small molecules lies in their ability to inhibit the synthesis of specific proteins, thus allowing cells to reduce the activity of certain genes at a given time.

"We have studied the role of a microRNA called miR-122, which is highly abundant in liver. It has caught considerable attention for its role in regulating cholesterol and lipid metabolism and in aiding the replication of hepatitis C virus" explains David Gatfield, one of Professor Schibler's collaborators.

Performance of the molecular oscillator…

The researchers' team has discovered that miR-122 is tightly embedded in the output system of the circadian clock in hepatocytes. This microRNA regulates numerous circadian genes, impinging on the amplitude and duration of their expression. Conversely, the synthesis of miR-122 involves a transcription factor that is otherwise known for its function in the circadian clock.

…and viral replication

"It will be exciting to investigate whether the connection between circadian rhythms and miR-122 also extends to this microRNA's role in hepatitis C virus replication", points out David Gatfield. Knowing whether viral multiplication is gated to specific times of the day would contribute significantly to our understanding of the life cycle of this formidable pathogen.

Scientists have uncovered over the past years the role of microRNAs in crucial physiological functions such as growth and programmed cell death, as well as carcinogenesis. Ueli Schibler's team adds a stone to this edifice by placing miR-122 within the clock gene machinery.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. "MicroRNAs Grease The Cell's Circadian Clockwork." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 June 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090531181744.htm>.
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. (2009, June 10). MicroRNAs Grease The Cell's Circadian Clockwork. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090531181744.htm
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. "MicroRNAs Grease The Cell's Circadian Clockwork." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090531181744.htm (accessed October 31, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, October 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Fauci Says Ebola Risk in US "essentially Zero"

Fauci Says Ebola Risk in US "essentially Zero"

AP (Oct. 30, 2014) NIAID Director Anthony Fauci said the risk of Ebola becoming an epidemic in the U.S. is essentially zero Thursday at the Washington Ideas Forum. He also said an Ebola vaccine will be tested in West Africa in the next few months. (Oct. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Nurse Defies Ebola Quarantine With Bike Ride

Nurse Defies Ebola Quarantine With Bike Ride

AP (Oct. 30, 2014) A nurse who vowed to defy Maine's voluntary quarantine for health care workers who treated Ebola patients followed through on her promise Thursday, leaving her home for an hour-long bike ride. (Oct. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pot-Infused Edibles Raise Concerns in Colorado

Pot-Infused Edibles Raise Concerns in Colorado

AFP (Oct. 30, 2014) Colorado may have legalized marijuana for recreational use, but the debate around the decision still continues, with a recent - failed - attempt to ban cannabis-infused edibles. Duration: 01:53 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
British Navy Ship Arrives in Sierra Leone With Ebola Aid

British Navy Ship Arrives in Sierra Leone With Ebola Aid

AFP (Oct. 30, 2014) The British ship RFA ARGUS arrived in Sierra Leone to deliver supplies and equipment to help the fight against Ebola. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins