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.

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 August 29, 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 August 29, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Friday, August 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) State health officials say testing has confirmed the presence of a killer amoeba in a water system serving three St. John the Baptist Parish towns. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Australian Sheep Gets Long Overdue Haircut

Raw: Australian Sheep Gets Long Overdue Haircut

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) Hoping to break the record for world's wooliest, Shaun the sheep came up 10 pounds shy with his fleece weighing over 50 pounds after being shorn for the first time in years. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Minds Blown: Scientists Develop Fish That Walk On Land

Minds Blown: Scientists Develop Fish That Walk On Land

Newsy (Aug. 28, 2014) Canadian scientists looking into the very first land animals took a fish out of water and forced it to walk. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Fake Dogs Scare Real Geese from Wis. Park

Fake Dogs Scare Real Geese from Wis. Park

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) Parks officials in Stevens Point, Wisconsin had a fowl problem. Canadian Geese were making a mess of a park, so officials enlisted cardboard versions of man's best friend. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
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:
from the past week

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