Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Paired genes in stem cells shed new light on gene organization and regulation

Date:
February 4, 2013
Source:
Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research
Summary:
Researchers show that transcription at the active promoters of protein-coding genes commonly runs in opposite directions. This leads to coordinated production of both protein-coding messenger RNAs (mRNAs) and long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs).

Whitehead Institute researchers have determined that DNA transcription, the process that produces messenger RNA (mRNA) templates used in protein production, also runs in the opposite direction along the DNA to create corresponding long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs). Moreover, the mRNAs and lncRNAs are transcribed coordinately as stem cells differentiate into other cell types. This surprising finding could redefine our understanding of gene organization and its regulation.

"It's a surprise to me that genes come in pairs," says Whitehead Member Richard Young, who is also a professor of biology at MIT. "At any one of the 20,000 protein-coding genes that are active in human stem cells, a lncRNA gene located upstream is also transcribed. So much effort has gone into studying protein-coding genes, and yet we have missed this concept that all protein-coding genes come in mRNA/lncRNA pairs. If you activate the mRNA gene, you're going to activate the lncRNA gene."

Young and his lab report their findings this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Until now, scientists thought transcription machinery attaches to DNA at certain points called promoters and moves just in one direction along the DNA to create mRNAs from protein-coding genes. Other RNAs that are not protein templates, including lncRNAs, are also created by transcription, but despite their important roles in in regulation of gene expression, development and disease, scientists knew little about how lncRNA transcription is initiated or where most lncRNA genes reside in the genome.

By looking at human and mouse embryonic stem cells, researchers in the Young lab found something astonishing -- most lncRNA genes are located adjacent mRNA genes, and the transcription of about 65% of lncRNAs originates at active promoters associated with these mRNAs' genes and runs "upstream" and in the opposite direction from the promoter.

When the transcription machinery attaches to a promoter, it seems that it is just as likely to move in one direction and transcribe the mRNA as it is to move in opposite direction and transcribe the neighboring lncRNA.

The researchers also noticed that as embryonic stem cells begin differentiating into other cell types, the mRNA/lncRNA pairs are regulated in the same way -- the transcription of paired mRNAs and lncRNAs is upregulated or downregulated together. This further confirms the relationship between the transcription of mRNAs and lncRNAs.

"I think it's quite a breakthrough," says Alla Sigova, who is a postdoctoral researcher in the Young lab and a co-author of the paper in PNAS. "This provides a unifying principle for production of mRNAs and lncRNAs, and may lead to new insights into lncRNA misregulation in disease. For example, some mRNAs are up- or downregulated in cancer, so their lncRNA partners could potentially contribute to cancer."

This work was supported by National Institutes of Health Grants HG002668, GM34277, and DK090122, the American Gastroenterological Association, the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation, and National Cancer Institute Cancer Center Support (Core) Grant P30-CA14051.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. The original article was written by Nicole Giese Rura. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Alla A. Sigova, Alan C. Mullen, Benoit Molinie, Sumeet Gupta, David A. Orlando, Matthew G. Guenther, Albert E. Almada, Charles Lin, Phillip A. Sharp, Cosmas C. Giallourakis, and Richard A. Young. Divergent transcription of long noncoding RNA/mRNA gene pairs in embryonic stem cells. PNAS, 2013 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1221904110

Cite This Page:

Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. "Paired genes in stem cells shed new light on gene organization and regulation." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 February 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130204153608.htm>.
Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. (2013, February 4). Paired genes in stem cells shed new light on gene organization and regulation. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130204153608.htm
Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. "Paired genes in stem cells shed new light on gene organization and regulation." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130204153608.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The Wawona Packing Company has issued a voluntary recall on the stone fruit it distributes due to a possible Listeria outbreak. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

AP (July 22, 2014) An 80-year-old agave plant, which is blooming for the first and only time at a University of Michigan conservatory, will die when it's done (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The 83 new genetic markers could open dozens of new avenues for schizophrenia treatment research. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
CDC Head Concerned About a Post-Antibiotic Era

CDC Head Concerned About a Post-Antibiotic Era

AP (July 22, 2014) Sounding alarms about the growing threat of antibiotic resistance, CDC Director Tom Frieden warned Tuesday if the global community does not confront the problem soon, the world will be living in a devastating post-antibiotic era. (July 22) 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