Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

RNA: Protein Regulators Are Themselves Regulated

Date:
September 13, 2009
Source:
Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research
Summary:
Scientists in Switzerland have shown that short strands of ribonucleic acid (RNA) which regulate protein production are themselves also regulated. This additional layer of regulation opens up new perspectives for therapeutic approaches.

RNAs, serving as a mere intermediary between DNA and proteins, were long regarded as a poor relation by researchers, attracting little interest. However, following the discovery of small RNAs known as microRNAs, they have increasingly been moving into the limelight. MicroRNAs bind to messenger RNA (mRNA), thereby regulating the translation of genes into proteins.

Related Articles


Recently, various studies have shown that the production of microRNAs is tightly controlled, but their subsequent fate was not clear. It was assumed that mature microRNAs remained stable in the cell for days, and that their possible functions were therefore restricted: a microRNA persisting for a relatively long period cannot be involved in any processes in the cell requiring rapid adaptation.

Regulated regulators

The study carried out by Helge Grosshans, a Research Group Leader at the Friedrich Miescher Institute, has now finally shifted attention away from DNA, spotlighting the key role played by microRNAs in the theater of cellular processes. As Grosshans and his team report in the current issue of the renowned journal Nature, they discovered a mechanism for active degradation of microRNAs and showed that this mechanism is itself regulated.

Explaining his findings, Grosshans says: “What was formerly conceived of as a direct, straightforward pathway is gradually turning out to be a dense network of regulatory mechanisms: genes are not simply translated into proteins via mRNA. MicroRNAs control the translation of mRNAs into proteins, and proteins in turn regulate the microRNAs at various levels.”

In addition, the FMI researchers showed in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans that, via regulation of degradation, it is possible to influence microRNA activity. This means that microRNAs may, after all, be involved in the regulation of rapidly occurring processes.

Targeted degradation of disease-causing RNAs

But the findings are also relevant in another respect. As microRNAs have been implicated in the development of diseases, efforts to date have focused on replacing disease-causing microRNAs with other microRNAs, or inactivating them with the aid of complementary RNA strands. Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to deliver RNAs to target cells for therapeutic purposes. Accordingly, the prospects of success for these novel treatment approaches have been uncertain. In his study, however, Grosshans identified a protein that specifically degrades microRNAs. If it now proves possible to specifically activate or inhibit this protein and its partners, that could provide an approach which is closer to classical and well-established forms of therapy.

Grosshans comments: “We now assume that a large number of human genes are regulated by microRNAs, so the regulatory mechanism we’ve discovered has a great potential to significantly influence numerous processes in human cells."

The meteoric rise of microRNAs

MicroRNAs are short, single-stranded RNA molecules which interact with mRNAs in a sequence-dependent manner. They thus inhibit translation of mRNAs into proteins. MicroRNAs were first described in 1993 in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. They were subsequently also shown to play an important role in regulating development processes and in pathogenesis in higher organisms. The findings of recent years and now also Helge Grosshans’s study have shifted attention away from DNA toward RNAs, which are taking center stage. The term “microRNA” was only introduced in 2001.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Chatterjee, S.; Grosshans, H. Active turnover modulates mature microRNA activity in Caenorhabditis elegans. Nature, 2009; DOI: 10.1038/nature08349

Cite This Page:

Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research. "RNA: Protein Regulators Are Themselves Regulated." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 September 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090910084147.htm>.
Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research. (2009, September 13). RNA: Protein Regulators Are Themselves Regulated. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090910084147.htm
Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research. "RNA: Protein Regulators Are Themselves Regulated." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090910084147.htm (accessed October 26, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) Miniature deep sea animals discovered off the Australian coast almost three decades ago are puzzling scientists, who say the organisms have proved impossible to categorise. Academics at the Natural History of Denmark have appealed to the world scientific community for help, saying that further information on Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides could answer key evolutionary questions. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 23, 2014) Price check on honey? Bear cub startles Oregon drugstore shoppers. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

AFP (Oct. 23, 2014) One man is on a mission to boost the population of wolves in China's violence-wracked far west. The animal - symbol of the Uighur minority there - is under threat with a massive human resettlement program in the region. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) Conflicting studies published in the same week re-ignited the debate over whether we should be eating breakfast. Video provided by Newsy
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


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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