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Long non-coding RNAs can encode proteins after all

Date:
June 23, 2014
Source:
Case Western Reserve University
Summary:
An extraordinary double discovery has been made by researchers. First, they have identified thousands of novel long non-coding ribonucleic acid transcripts. Second, they have learned that some of them defy conventional wisdom regarding lncRNA transcripts, because they actually do direct the synthesis of proteins in cells.

Case Western Reserve School of Medicine scientists have made an extraordinary double discovery. First, they have identified thousands of novel long non-coding ribonucleic acid (lncRNA) transcripts. Second, they have learned that some of them defy conventional wisdom regarding lncRNA transcripts, because they actually do direct the synthesis of proteins in cells.

Both of the breakthroughs are detailed in the June 12 issue of Cell Reports.

Kristian E. Baker, PhD, assistant professor in the Center for RNA Molecular Biology, led the team that applied high throughput gene expression analysis to yield these impressive findings, which ultimately could lead to treatments for cancer and some genetic disorders.

"Our work establishes that lncRNAs in yeast can encode proteins, and we provide evidence that this is probably true also in mammals, including humans," Baker said. "Our investigation has expanded our knowledge of the genetic coding potential of already well-characterized genomes."

Collaborating with researchers including Case Western Reserve University graduate and undergraduate students, Baker analyzed yeast and mouse cells, which serve as model organisms because of their functional resemblance to human cells.

Previously, lncRNAs were thought to lack the information and capacity to encode for proteins, distinguishing them from the messenger RNAs that are expressed from known genes and act primarily as templates for the synthesis of proteins. Yet this team demonstrated that a subset of these lncRNAs is engaged by the translation machinery and can function to produce protein products.

In the future, Baker and fellow investigators will continue to look for novel RNA transcripts and also search for a function for these lncRNAs and their protein products in cells.

"Discovery of more transcripts equates to the discovery of new and novel genes," Baker said. "The significance of this work is that we have discovered evidence for the expression of previously undiscovered genes. Knowing that genes are expressed is the very first step in figuring out what they do in normal cellular function or in dysfunction and disease."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Case Western Reserve University. The original article was written by Jeannette Spalding. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. JennaE. Smith, JuanR. Alvarez-Dominguez, Nicholas Kline, NathanJ. Huynh, Sarah Geisler, Wenqian Hu, Jeff Coller, KristianE. Baker. Translation of Small Open Reading Frames within Unannotated RNA Transcripts in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Cell Reports, 2014; DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2014.05.023

Cite This Page:

Case Western Reserve University. "Long non-coding RNAs can encode proteins after all." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 June 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140623131331.htm>.
Case Western Reserve University. (2014, June 23). Long non-coding RNAs can encode proteins after all. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140623131331.htm
Case Western Reserve University. "Long non-coding RNAs can encode proteins after all." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140623131331.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

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