Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Computer sleuthing helps unravel RNA's role in cellular function

Date:
February 15, 2012
Source:
University of Central Florida
Summary:
Computer engineers may have just provided the medical community a new way of figuring out exactly how one of the three building blocks of life forms and functions. They have used a complex computer program to analyze RNA motifs – the subunits that make up RNA.

Computer engineers may have just provided the medical community a new way of figuring out exactly how one of the three building blocks of life forms and functions.

University of Central Florida Engineering Assistant Professor Shaojie Zhang used a complex computer program to analyze RNA motifs -- the subunits that make up RNA (ribonucleic acid).

RNA is one of three building blocks of life along with DNA and proteins. Knowing how all three building blocks work together and how they go awry will go a long way to understanding what causes diseases and how to treat them.

While much has been discovered about DNA thanks to the Human Genome Project, not a lot is known about RNA, which like DNA helps encode genes. Some viruses also use RNA as their prime genetic source to replicate. And various types of RNA are involved in everything from protein synthesis, controlling gene expression and communicating cell signals from one part of the body to another.

The units that make up RNA fold like a long accordion and vary in structure. Many have been identified in the past, but finding a quick automatic way to determine patterns in the varying types of units has been elusive until now.

"We have discovered many new RNA structural motifs using our new computational method," Zhang said. "This breakthrough can largely increase our current knowledge of RNA structural motifs. And newly discovered motifs may also help us develop possible treatment of certain diseases."

Zhang's work is this month's cover story in Nucleic Acids Research, an academic journal.

Using computers, Zhang and his team have been able to view these RNA accordion-like structures and how they fold in a 3-D scale. The program can quickly go through many RNA samples and discover units that are distinct and form patterns. That information gives researchers clues about their function.

"It's another tool to help unravel the mystery of how biology works and why it sometimes goes wrong, resulting in some fatal disease," Zhang said.

Zhang worked with Cuncong Zhong, a Ph.D. candidate at UCF on the study. Zhang has a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of California at San Diego. His specialty is computational biology and bioinformatics. He joined UCF in 2007 and established UCF's Computational Biology and Bioinformatics Lab housed in the College of Engineering and Computer Science.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Central Florida. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. C. Zhong, S. Zhang. Clustering RNA structural motifs in ribosomal RNAs using secondary structural alignment. Nucleic Acids Research, 2011; 40 (3): 1307 DOI: 10.1093/nar/gkr804

Cite This Page:

University of Central Florida. "Computer sleuthing helps unravel RNA's role in cellular function." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 February 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120215143105.htm>.
University of Central Florida. (2012, February 15). Computer sleuthing helps unravel RNA's role in cellular function. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120215143105.htm
University of Central Florida. "Computer sleuthing helps unravel RNA's role in cellular function." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120215143105.htm (accessed October 23, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Orthodontist Mom Jennifer Salzer on the Best Time for Braces

Orthodontist Mom Jennifer Salzer on the Best Time for Braces

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) Is your child ready? Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.S. Issues Ebola Travel Restrictions, Are Visa Bans Next?

U.S. Issues Ebola Travel Restrictions, Are Visa Bans Next?

Newsy (Oct. 22, 2014) Now that the U.S. is restricting travel from West Africa, some are dropping questions about a travel ban and instead asking about visa bans. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
US to Track Everyone Coming from Ebola Nations

US to Track Everyone Coming from Ebola Nations

AP (Oct. 22, 2014) Stepping up their vigilance against Ebola, federal authorities said Wednesday that everyone traveling into the US from Ebola-stricken nations will be monitored for symptoms for 21 days. (Oct. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctors Help Paralysed Man Walk Again, Patient in Disbelief

Doctors Help Paralysed Man Walk Again, Patient in Disbelief

AFP (Oct. 22, 2014) Polish doctors describe how they helped a paralysed man walk again, with the patient in disbelief at the return of sensation to his legs. Duration: 1:04 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