Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Making enough red blood cells: Scientists identify molecules that ensure red blood cell production

Date:
June 6, 2010
Source:
European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL)
Summary:
Scientists have identified two small RNA molecules which ensure that enough red blood cells are produced efficiently, by fine-tuning a number of different genes involved in this process.

This microscopy image shows that in a mouse embryo MiR451 (dark purple) is produced only in the liver, where red blood cells are being formed at this developmental stage.
Credit: Kasper Rasmussen / EMBL

Red blood cells, the delivery men that take oxygen to cells all around the body, have short lives. To keep enough of them in circulation, the human body produces around 2 million of these cells every second -- even more in response to challenges like severe blood loss. In a study published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, scientists at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Monterotondo, Italy, and EMBL's European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) in Hinxton, UK, have identified two small RNA molecules which ensure that enough red blood cells are produced efficiently, by fine-tuning a number of different genes involved in this process.

Related Articles


"A lot of the effort of blood cell formation, or haematopoiesis, goes into just keeping enough red blood cells in circulation" says Dσnal O'Carroll, who led the work at EMBL Monterotondo: "We've identified two molecules that help to do so, and which are essential in challenging situations."

To form red blood cells, large, round cells known as precursors have to become small and disc-shaped, like balls of plasticine squeezed between finger and thumb. In the process, they must also produce the large quantities of haemoglobin that will allow them to transport oxygen, and shrink and dispose of their nucleus. The EMBL scientists found that two microRNAs, called MiR144 and MiR451, control the final stages of this process.

O'Carroll and colleagues genetically engineered mice to have no MiR144 or MiR451. They found that such mice had defects in the final stages of red blood cell formation, but produced red blood cell precursors not only in the bone marrow, but also in large quantities in the spleen. By increasing the number of precursors, the mice compensated for the fact that a smaller percentage of those precursors matured into functional red blood cells, and thus were able to survive with only a mild anaemia.

"Under steady-state conditions, mice without MiR144 or MiR451 can just about produce enough red blood cells, but if you challenge them, by chemically inducing anaemia, most of them don't survive, because in those conditions you just can't live with inefficient red blood cell formation" O'Carroll explains. O'Carroll and colleagues teamed up with Anton Enright's group at EMBL-EBI, and used a sophisticated bioinformatics approach to understand how these microRNAs act. They found that of the two, MiR451 probably plays a key role in the process, and that it likely does so not by switching a single gene on or off, but by fine-tuning a multitude of genes involved in red blood cell formation.

These microRNA molecules have been conserved throughout vertebrate evolution. They are known to also be important for red blood cell formation in fish, and are likely to play a similar role in humans too. Thus, investigating their function further could help to understand how our own red blood cells are formed, and how defects in that process may lead to conditions such as anaemia.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. K. D. Rasmussen, S. Simmini, C. Abreu-Goodger, N. Bartonicek, M. Di Giacomo, D. Bilbao-Cortes, R. Horos, M. Von Lindern, A. J. Enright, D. O'Carroll. The miR-144/451 locus is required for erythroid homeostasis. Journal of Experimental Medicine, 2010; DOI: 10.1084/jem.20100458

Cite This Page:

European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL). "Making enough red blood cells: Scientists identify molecules that ensure red blood cell production." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 June 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100601072632.htm>.
European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL). (2010, June 6). Making enough red blood cells: Scientists identify molecules that ensure red blood cell production. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100601072632.htm
European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL). "Making enough red blood cells: Scientists identify molecules that ensure red blood cell production." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100601072632.htm (accessed November 26, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) — The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Daily Serving Of Yogurt Could Reduce Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

Daily Serving Of Yogurt Could Reduce Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) — Need another reason to eat yogurt every day? Researchers now say it could reduce a person's risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Madagascar Working to Contain Plague Outbreak

Madagascar Working to Contain Plague Outbreak

AFP (Nov. 24, 2014) — Madagascar said Monday it is trying to contain an outbreak of plague -- similar to the Black Death that swept Medieval Europe -- that has killed 40 people and is spreading to the capital Antananarivo. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) — A new study links greater authority with increased depressive symptoms among women in the workplace. 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

 

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