Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Scientific Community
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

Paired Genes in Stem Cells Shed New Light on Gene Organization and Regulation

Published: Wednesday, February 06, 2013
Last Updated: Wednesday, February 06, 2013
Bookmark and Share
Researchers have determined that DNA transcription also runs in the opposite direction along the DNA to create corresponding long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs).

Moreover, the mRNAs and lncRNAs are transcribed coordinately as stem cells differentiate into other cell types. This surprising finding could redefine our understanding of gene organization and its regulation.

“It’s a surprise to me that genes come in pairs,” says Whitehead Member Richard Young, who is also a professor of biology at MIT. “At any one of the 20,000 protein-coding genes that are active in human stem cells, a lncRNA gene located upstream is also transcribed. So much effort has gone into studying protein-coding genes, and yet we have missed this concept that all protein-coding genes come in mRNA/lncRNA pairs. If you activate the mRNA gene, you’re going to activate the lncRNA gene.”

Young and his lab report their findings this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Until now, scientists thought transcription machinery attaches to DNA at certain points called promoters and moves just in one direction along the DNA to create mRNAs from protein-coding genes. Other RNAs that are not protein templates, including lncRNAs, are also created by transcription, but despite their important roles in in regulation of gene expression, development and disease, scientists knew little about how lncRNA transcription is initiated or where most lncRNA genes reside in the genome.

By looking at human and mouse embryonic stem cells, researchers in the Young lab found something astonishing—most lncRNA genes are located adjacent mRNA genes, and the transcription of about 65% of lncRNAs originates at active promoters associated with these mRNAs’ genes and runs “upstream” and in the opposite direction from the promoter.

When the transcription machinery attaches to a promoter, it seems that it is just as likely to move in one direction and transcribe the mRNA as it is to move in opposite direction and transcribe the neighboring lncRNA.

The researchers also noticed that as embryonic stem cells begin differentiating into other cell types, the mRNA/lncRNA pairs are regulated in the same way—the transcription of paired mRNAs and lncRNAs is upregulated or downregulated together. This further confirms the relationship between the transcription of mRNAs and lncRNAs.

“I think it’s quite a breakthrough,” says Alla Sigova, who is a postdoctoral researcher in the Young lab and a co-author of the paper in PNAS. “This provides a unifying principle for production of mRNAs and lncRNAs, and may lead to new insights into lncRNA misregulation in disease. For example, some mRNAs are up- or downregulated in cancer, so their lncRNA partners could potentially contribute to cancer.”

Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,800+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,000+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Aggressive Cancer Exploits MYC Oncogene to Amplify Global Gene Activity
For a cancer patient, over-expression of the MYC oncogene is a bad omen.
Tuesday, October 02, 2012
Scientific News
New Class of RNA Tumor Suppressors Identified
Two short, “housekeeping” RNA molecules block cancer growth by binding to an important cancer-associated protein called KRAS. More than a quarter of all human cancers are missing these RNAs.
Mathematical Model Forecasts the Path of Breast Cancer
Chances of survival depend on which organs breast cancer tumors colonize first.
Exploring the Causes of Cancer
Queen's research to understand the regulation of a cell surface protein involved in cancer.
Nanocarriers May Carry New Hope for Brain Cancer Therapy
Berkeley lab researchers develop nanoparticles that can carry therapeutics across the brain blood barrier.
RNA-Based Drugs Give More Control Over Gene Editing
CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technique can be transiently activated and inactivated using RNA-based drugs, giving researchers more precise control in correcting and inactivating genes.
University of Glasgow Researchers Make An Impact in 60 Seconds
Early-career researchers were invited to submit an engaging, dynamic and compelling 60 second video illuminating an aspect of their research.
Metabolic Profiles Distinguish Early Stage Ovarian Cancer with Unprecedented Accuracy
Studying blood serum compounds of different molecular weights has led scientists to a set of biomarkers that may enable development of a highly accurate screening test for early-stage ovarian cancer.
Dead Bacteria to Kill Colorectal Cancer
Scientists from Nanyang Technological University (NTU Singapore) have successfully used dead bacteria to kill colorectal cancer cells.
CRISPR-Cas9 Gene Editing: Check Three Times, Cut Once
Two new studies from UC Berkeley should give scientists who use CRISPR-Cas9 for genome engineering greater confidence that they won’t inadvertently edit the wrong DNA.
Genetically Engineering Algae to Kill Cancer Cells
New interdisciplinary research has revealed the frontline role tiny algae could play in the battle against cancer, through the innovative use of nanotechnology.

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,800+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,000+ scientific videos