Archive for ‘Developmental biology’

October 4, 2011

New technique gives precise picture of how regulatory RNA controls gene activity

LincRNAs (long intergenic non-coding RNAs) seem to be the flavor du jour for researchers studying the many functions of various types of RNA, in addition to the traditional role of carrying genetic information from DNA to the cellular structures where proteins are made. Very recent research showed that lincRNAs regulate gene expression in embryonic stem cells. Another lab has now come up with a technique for determining exactly where on a cell’s chromosones a given lincRNA binds in order to regulate gene expression.

New Stanford technique gives precise picture of how regulatory RNA controls gene activity – Stanford University

A new technique developed by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine allows researchers to identify the exact DNA sequences and locations bound by regulatory RNAs. This information is necessary to understand how the recently identified RNA molecules control the expression of neighboring and distant genes.

The study offers a startling glimpse into the intricate world of gene expression and how RNA, once thought to be only a lowly cellular messenger, actively unlocks our DNA-based genome. “We used to have to just infer where these RNAs were acting based on their biological effects,” said Howard Chang, MD, PhD, professor of dermatology. “But now we can identify precisely where on the chromatin they are binding. We’ve found that these sites are focal, numerous and sequence-specific.”

This research greatly improves lab techniques for studying lincRNA, but doesn’t itself identify new functions.