Funny news

3 11 2006

Small RNAs Reveal an Activating Side

KEN GARBER*

The ability of short double strands of RNA to turn off specific genes,
a process called RNA interference (RNAi), has enabled new animal
models, spawned biotech companies, and a few weeks ago, produced a
Nobel prize (Science, 6 October 2006, p. 34).
Now, a California research team has made the controversial claim that
such RNAs can have the opposite effect: They can turn genes on.

This surprising skill–dubbed RNAa, because the RNAs activate genes–is described this week in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
If the claim is sustained, RNAa would be a powerful biological tool and
could lead to new therapies for diseases such as cancer. But some
scientists say the results may reflect an indirect outcome of RNAi,
rather than a new way to activate genes. "It’s going to be a question
of whether this holds up," says Erik Sontheimer, an RNA researcher at
Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.

RNAi is generally thought to thwart gene translation–the double-strand
RNAs cut up a gene’s mRNA or block its ability to make protein. But in
lower organisms, it can also work at the level of transcription,
preventing a gene from even making its mRNA. Long-Cheng Li, a postdoc
in the lab of cancer researcher Rajvir Dahiya at the University of
California, San Francisco (UCSF), tried to use RNAi to block
transcription of the human E-cadherin tumor suppressor gene. When Li
added synthetic RNAs that specifically targeted the gene’s DNA sequence
to human prostate cancer cells, E-cadherin levels unexpectedly went up,
not down. "It was immediately quite obvious," Li recalls.

Full text: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/314/5800/741a

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One response

15 09 2008
Unknown

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