Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Genes protect themselves against being silenced

Date:
October 10, 2013
Source:
Harvard University
Summary:
Researchers have settled a century-old debate over whether occurrence of DNA methylation acts to silence gene expression, or if genes are turned off by other means before they are methylated.

Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) researchers have settled a century-old debate over whether occurrence of DNA methylation acts to silence gene expression, or if genes are turned off by other means before they are methylated.

As explicated today in the journal Nature, methylation in fact enforces gene silencing, and it is levels of a newly identified form of RNA produced by individual genes that determines whether they are turned off by the addition of a methyl (CH3) group by the enzyme DNA methylase 1 (DNMT1).

The study, led by HSCI Principal Faculty member Daniel Tenen, MD, found that during transcription of DNA to RNA, a gene produces a small amount of what the investigators named "extracoding RNA," which stays in the nucleus and binds to DNMT1, blocking its ability to methylate, or silence the gene. The discovery of RNA's new function has therapeutic potential as an on-off switch for gene expression.

"We have demonstrated, at least for one gene in detail, and probably thousands more, that extracoding RNA serves to protect the gene from methylation," said Tenen, who heads laboratories at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and the Cancer Science Institute of Singapore, where he is director, at the National University of Singapore. "When the RNA is shut off, which we did by various means, the gene becomes methylated."

Postdoctoral fellow Annalisa Di Ruscio, MD, PhD, and laboratory staff member Alexander Ebralidze, PhD, were major contributors to the work.

The biological irony is that DNMT1 has long been considered a DNA-binding enzyme, so it is surprising that it is able to bind so well to extracoding RNA, Tenen explained.

"If you put extracoding RNA into a cell, you can actually inhibit the ability of DNMT1 to maintain methylation patterns of that gene and induce demethylation in a gene-selective manner," Tenen said. "The reason this is interesting is the cancers and other disease are treated using demethylation agents, so this gives us the opportunity to try to direct gene-specific demethylation."

This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Italian Foundation for Cancer Research, Fondazione Roma, an American Italian Cancer Foundation Fellowship, the Singapore National Research Foundation, the Singapore Ministry of Education, and the Singapore Ministry of Health.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Harvard University. The original article was written by Joseph Caputo. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Annalisa Di Ruscio, Alexander K. Ebralidze, Touati Benoukraf, Giovanni Amabile, Loyal A. Goff, Jolyon Terragni, Maria Eugenia Figueroa, Lorena Lobo De Figueiredo Pontes, Meritxell Alberich-Jorda, Pu Zhang, Mengchu Wu, Francesco D’Alς, Ari Melnick, Giuseppe Leone, Konstantin K. Ebralidze, Sriharsa Pradhan, John L. Rinn, Daniel G. Tenen. DNMT1-interacting RNAs block gene-specific DNA methylation. Nature, 2013; DOI: 10.1038/nature12598

Cite This Page:

Harvard University. "Genes protect themselves against being silenced." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131010105119.htm>.
Harvard University. (2013, October 10). Genes protect themselves against being silenced. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131010105119.htm
Harvard University. "Genes protect themselves against being silenced." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131010105119.htm (accessed April 19, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) — In a potential breakthrough for future obesity treatments, scientists have used MRI scans to pinpoint brown fat in a living adult for the first time. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) — A new report shows rates of two foodborne infections increased in the U.S. in recent years, while salmonella actually dropped 9 percent. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) — The breakthrough could mean a cure for some serious diseases and even the possibility of human cloning, but it's all still a way off. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) — President Barack Obama gave a briefing Thursday announcing 8 million people have signed up under the Affordable Care Act. He blasted continued Republican efforts to repeal the law. (April 17) 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