Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Novel regulatory molecules called mirror-microRNAs control multiple aspects of brain function

Date:
April 27, 2012
Source:
University of Bristol
Summary:
Our genes control many aspects of who we are -- from the color of our hair to our vulnerability to certain diseases -- but how are the genes, and consequently the proteins they make themselves controlled? Researchers have discovered a new group of molecules which control some of the fundamental processes behind memory function and may hold the key to developing new therapies for treating neurodegenerative diseases.

The mirror-miRNA (red) is expressed in hippocampal neurons, the nucleus is shown in blue.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Bristol

Our genes control many aspects of who we are -- from the colour of our hair to our vulnerability to certain diseases -- but how are the genes, and consequently the proteins they make themselves controlled? Researchers have discovered a new group of molecules which control some of the fundamental processes behind memory function and may hold the key to developing new therapies for treating neurodegenerative diseases.

The research, led by academics from the University of Bristol's Schools of Clinical Sciences, Biochemistry and Physiology & Pharmacology and published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, has revealed a new group of molecules, called mirror-microRNAs.

MicroRNAs are non-coding genes that often reside within 'junk DNA' and regulate the levels and functions of multiple target proteins -- responsible for controlling cellular processes in the brain. The study's findings have shown that two microRNA genes with different functions can be produced from the same piece (sequence) of DNA -- one is produced from the top strand and another from the bottom complementary 'mirror' strand.

Specifically, the research has shown that a single piece of human DNA gives rise to two fully processed microRNA genes that are expressed in the brain and have different and previously unknown functions. One microRNA is expressed in the parts of nerve cells that are known to control memory function and the other microRNA controls the processes that move protein cargos around nerve cells.

James Uney, Professor of Molecular Neuroscience in the University's School of Clinical Sciences, said: "These findings are important as they show that very small changes in microRNA genes will have a dramatic effect on brain function and may influence our memory function or likelihood of developing neurodegenerative diseases. These findings also suggest that many more human mirror microRNAs will be found and that they could ultimately be used as treatments for human neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia."

MicroRNAs can be seen as a novel regulatory layer within the genome, relying on the interaction between different RNA molecules. Through binding to messenger RNA (mRNA), they adjust the levels of proteins. Due to their small size, they are able to regulate many different RNAs. MicroRNAs have already been found throughout the double helix, lying in between genes or in areas of the code for a single gene that would normally be discarded. Such areas that were once considered "junk DNA" are now revealing a more complex and important role. In addition microRNAs can be produced in conjunction with their genes, within which they lie, or be controlled and produced entirely independently.

Helen Scott and Joanna Howarth, the lead authors on the study, added: "We have now found that both sides of the double helix can each produce a microRNA. These two microRNAs are almost a perfect mirror of each other, but due to slight differences in their sequence, they regulate different sets of protein producing RNAs, which will in turn affect different biological functions. Such mirror-miRNAs are likely to represent a new group of microRNAs with complex roles in coordinating gene expression, doubling the capacity of regulation."

The study, by Helen Scott, Joanna Howarth, Youn Bok Lee, Liang-Fong Wong, Ioannis Bantounas, Leonidas Phylactou, Paul Verkade and James B Uney, was supported by the Wellcome Trust, Medical Research Council (ERA-NET) and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. H. Scott, J. Howarth, Y. B. Lee, L.-F. Wong, I. Bantounas, L. Phylactou, P. Verkade, J. B. Uney. Mir-3120 is a mirror microRNA that targets heat shock cognate protein 70 and auxilin and regulates clathrin vesicle uncoating. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 2012; DOI: 10.1074/jbc.M111.326041

Cite This Page:

University of Bristol. "Novel regulatory molecules called mirror-microRNAs control multiple aspects of brain function." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 April 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120427100122.htm>.
University of Bristol. (2012, April 27). Novel regulatory molecules called mirror-microRNAs control multiple aspects of brain function. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120427100122.htm
University of Bristol. "Novel regulatory molecules called mirror-microRNAs control multiple aspects of brain function." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120427100122.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law

Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law

AP (July 22, 2014) Two federal appeals courts issued conflicting rulings Tuesday on the legality of the federally-run healthcare exchange that operates in 36 states. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The new sci-fi thriller "Lucy" is making people question whether we really use all our brainpower. But, as scientists have insisted for years, we do. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Find New Way To Make Human Platelets

Scientists Find New Way To Make Human Platelets

Newsy (July 22, 2014) Boston scientists have discovered a new way to create fully functioning human platelets using a bioreactor and human stem cells. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

TheStreet (July 21, 2014) New research shows Gilead Science's drug Sovaldi helps in curing hepatitis C in those who suffer from HIV. In a medical study, the combination of Gilead's Hep C drug with anti-viral drug Ribavirin cured 76% of HIV-positive patients suffering from the most common hepatitis C strain. Hepatitis C and related complications have been a top cause of death in HIV-positive patients. Typical medication used to treat the disease, including interferon proteins, tended to react badly with HIV drugs. However, Sovaldi's %1,000-a-pill price tag could limit the number of patients able to access the treatment. TheStreet's Keris Lahiff reports from New York. Video provided by TheStreet
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