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Extra RNA letter found; helps explain epigenetics

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artist’s depiction of DNA/DigitalGenetics, Fotolia

From ScienceDaily:

A new study published in Nature by a team of Tel Aviv University, Sheba Medical Center, and University of Chicago scientists finds that RNA, considered the DNA template for protein translation, often appears with an extra letter — and this letter is the regulatory key for control of gene expression. The discovery of a novel letter marking thousands of mRNA transcripts will offer insight into different RNA functions in cellular processes and contributions to the development of disease.

“Epigenetics, the regulation of gene expression beyond the primary information encoded by DNA, was thought until recently to be mediated by modifications of proteins and DNA,” said Prof. Gidi Rechavi, Djerassi Chair in Oncology at TAU’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine and head of the Cancer Research Center at Sheba Medical Center. “The new findings bring RNA to a central position in epigenetics.”

“This discovery further opens the window on a whole new world of biology for us to explore,” said Prof. He. “These modifications have a major impact on almost every biological process.” More.

See also: Epigenetic change: Lamarck, wake up, you’re wanted in the conference room!


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Here’s the abstract:

Gene expression can be regulated post-transcriptionally through dynamic and reversible RNA modifications. A recent noteworthy example is N6-methyladenosine (m6A), which affects messenger RNA (mRNA) localization, stability, translation and splicing. Here we report on a new mRNA modification, N1-methyladenosine (m1A), that occurs on thousands of different gene transcripts in eukaryotic cells, from yeast to mammals, at an estimated average transcript stoichiometry of 20% in humans. Employing newly developed sequencing approaches, we show that m1A is enriched around the start codon upstream of the first splice site: it preferentially decorates more structured regions around canonical and alternative translation initiation sites, is dynamic in response to physiological conditions, and correlates positively with protein production. These unique features are highly conserved in mouse and human cells, strongly indicating a functional role for m1A in promoting translation of methylated mRNA. (paywall) – Dan Dominissini, Sigrid Nachtergaele, Sharon Moshitch-Moshkovitz, Eyal Peer, Nitzan Kol, Moshe Shay Ben-Haim, Qing Dai, Ayelet Di Segni, Mali Salmon-Divon, Wesley C. Clark, Guanqun Zheng, Tao Pan, Oz Solomon, Eran Eyal, Vera Hershkovitz, Dali Han, Louis C. Doré, Ninette Amariglio, Gideon Rechavi, Chuan He. The dynamic N1-methyladenosine methylome in eukaryotic messenger RNA. Nature, 2016; DOI: 10.1038/nature16998

Thank you, Mung, for giving voice to a greatly ignored fact. Any special reason why this RNA is in a double helix? diannepatti
“This discovery further opens the window on a whole new world of biology for us to explore,” said Prof. He. So He says... anthropic
"This discovery further opens the window on a whole new world of biology for us to explore," said Prof. He.
A new area of biology to explore? Where are they going to store all that data? Who is going to process all that information? :) Dionisio
We are rapidly receding from the idea of DNA as the cause of anything at all and returning to the truth that DNA is inert. There never was any self-replicating DNA. Ever. Mung

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