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

Scientists at GIS Discover Gene that Controls the Birth of Neurons

Published: Thursday, August 29, 2013
Last Updated: Thursday, August 29, 2013
Bookmark and Share
Discovery of long non-coding RNA's role in neurogenesis may lead to cures for diseases such as Alzheimer's disease.

Scientists at A*STAR's Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS) have discovered an unusual gene that controls the generation of neurons. This important finding, which is crucial in understanding serious diseases of the brain such as Alzheimer's disease, was reported in the 8th August 2013 issue of the prestigious scientific journal, Molecular Cell.

The central nervous system is composed of numerous cell types that develop into a complex, higher-ordered structure.

The birth of neurons (known as neurogenesis) is a process that requires exquisite temporal and spatial control of hundreds of genes.

The expression of these genes is controlled by regulatory networks, usually involving proteins, which play critical roles in establishing and maintaining the nervous system.

Problems with neurogenesis are the basis of many neurological disorders, and the understanding of the molecular details of neurogenesis is therefore crucial for developing treatments of serious diseases.

Researchers at the GIS, led by Principal Investigator Prof Lawrence Stanton, discovered a key component within a gene regulatory network which controls the birth of new neurons, called RMST.

Surprisingly, this new discovery is not a protein. Rather, RMST is an atypical, long non-coding RNA (lncRNA for short; pronounced as "link RNA").

The new findings demonstrate that the RNA does not produce a protein to handle the regulatory process. Instead, it acts directly as a regulatory mechanism. LncRNAs are a newly discovered class of RNA whose functions remain mostly unknown.

The new discovery of how RMST works within a gene regulatory network not only sheds light on the process of neurogenesis, but also generates new insight into how lncRNA works together with protein components to regulate the important biological processes of gene expression.

Prof Lawrence Stanton said, "There is now great excitement about the revelation that RNA is more than just a messenger carrying genetic information that encodes for proteins. New classes of RNA, called long non-coding RNAs (lncRNA), have been discovered, which are capable of unanticipated functional diversity. However, systematic functional investigations of exactly what, and how, lncRNAs do in our cells remain scant. Our study paves the way for understanding a crucial role played by a lncRNA in human neurons."

Associate Prof Leonard Lipovich, from the Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics at the Wayne State University and a member of GENCODE, said, "In their paper in Molecular Cell, Stanton and colleagues show how RMST, a human lncRNA, directly regulates SOX2, a key transcription factor protein that is instrumental for directing the birth of new neurons. Even more intriguingly, they highlight that RMST controls SOX2 by directly interacting with the protein. The paper is therefore an important advance in the still nascent and controversial field of riboregulators, or RNAs that regulate proteins in our cells. DNA-binding proteins that turn genes on and off were traditionally thought to be distinct from RNA-binding proteins. Stanton et al, however, illuminate the cryptic, yet crucial, RNA-binding roles for DNA-binding transcription factors: lncRNAs just might be the definitive regulatory switch that controls these factors' activity."

GIS Executive Director Prof Huck Hui Ng added, "One cannot overemphasize the importance of neurogenesis, which is responsible for the normal functioning of one of the most important biological systems in the body. Larry Stanton and his team have made an exciting finding, one that could lead to new approaches in the treatment of neural diseases. This latest work has built upon their unique, interdisciplinary expertise, developed over the past 10 years at the GIS, in applying cutting-edge genomics technologies to the study of the human body."

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 2,600+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 3,800+ 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

A*STAR Scientists Discover Gene Critical for Proper Brain Development
This gene accounts for the size of the human brain and potentially our superior cognitive abilities.
Friday, December 26, 2014
Gene Associated with an Aggressive Breast Cancer Identified
Over-expressed gene in triple negative breast cancer offers new diagnostics for risk assessment.
Wednesday, December 03, 2014
Novel Gene Predicts Both Breast Cancer Relapse and Response to Chemotherapy
A predictive marker discovered by scientists at A*STAR and NUS could help doctors classify breast cancer patients for more effective treatment.
Thursday, August 21, 2014
New Tool to Study Critical Protein Interaction in Cancer Research
A*STAR scientists used fluorescent molecular rotors to study protein-protein interactions involving p53 and MDM2 in cells.
Thursday, July 03, 2014
New Possibilities for Leukaemia Therapy with a Novel Mode of Cancer Cell Recognition
A new class of lipids in human leukaemia cells trigger an immune response to kill the cells.
Thursday, June 26, 2014
Nature and Nurture: Baby's Development is Affected by Genes and Conditions in the Womb
First attempt to discover how genetic and environmental factors affect the human epigenome.
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Elephant Shark Genome Provides New Insights into Bone Formation in Humans
A*STAR-led international consortium completely decodes the first shark-family member genome.
Thursday, January 09, 2014
A*STAR Scientists Discover Novel Hormone Essential for Heart Development
This unusual discovery could aid cardiac repair and provide new therapies to common heart diseases and hypertension.
Friday, December 06, 2013
A*STAR and NUS Launch Joint Centre
The S$148 million centre will study the role of nutrition and early development in health and disease in Asia.
Thursday, October 10, 2013
Scientists Find a Promising Way To Boost The Body’s Immune Surveillance Via p53
Researchers at A*STAR have discovered a new mechanism involving p53, the famous tumour suppressor, to fight against aggressive cancers.
Thursday, September 26, 2013
Singapore Scientists Discover New RNA Processing Pathway Important in hESCs
Discovery of RNA regulator could lead to a better understanding of diseases like cancer and influenza.
Monday, September 09, 2013
A*STAR Scientist Alex Matter Awarded Prestigious Szent-Gyorgyi Prize For Progress In Cancer Research
National Foundation for Cancer Research honours Professor Alex Matter with esteemed award for groundbreaking cancer pill that gives leukaemia patients a new lease of life.
Friday, April 05, 2013
A*STAR Scientists Make Discovery of Cell Nucleus Structure Crucial to Understanding Diseases
Genes relocated from their correct position in the nucleus cause them to malfunction and this may lead to the heart, blood vessels and muscles breaking down.
Friday, February 08, 2013
A*STAR's GIS Collaborates with GSK to Further Research on Lung Cancer
Partnership will advance both organizations' joint efforts towards finding a cure for the disease.
Thursday, January 31, 2013
Singapore Scientists Find Genes Associated with Glaucoma
Scientists find three new genes associated with PACG that affects 15 million people worldwide.
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Scientific News
Lung Repair and Regeneration Gene Discovered
New role for hedgehog gene offers better understanding of lung disease.
3 Ways Viruses Have Changed Science for the Better
Viruses are really good at what they do, and we’ve been able to harness their skills to learn about – and potentially improve – human health in several ways.
Mixed Up Cell Transportation Key Piece of ALS and Dementia Puzzle
Researchers from the University of Toronto are one step closer to solving this incredibly complex puzzle, offering hope for treatment.
New Gene Therapy for Vision Loss From a Mitochondrial Disease
NIH-funded study shows success in targeting mitochondrial DNA in mice.
Five New Genetic Variants Linked to Brain Cancer Identified
The biggest ever study of DNA from people with glioma – the most common form of brain cancer – has discovered five new genetic variants associated with the disease.
Predictive Model for Breast Cancer Progression
Biomedical engineers have demonstrated a proof-of-principle technique that could give women and their oncologists more personalized information to help them choose options for treating breast cancer.
Fatty Liver Disease and Scarring Have Strong Genetic Component
Researchers say that hepatic fibrosis, which involves scarring of the liver that can result in dysfunction and, in severe cases, cirrhosis and cancer, may be as much a consequence of genetics as environmental factors.
Specific Variations in RNA Splicing Linked to Breast Cancer
Researchers have identified cellular changes that may play a role in converting normal breast cells into tumors. Targeting these changes could potentially lead to therapies for some forms of breast cancer.
Finding Links and Missing Genes
A catalogue of large-scale genetic changes around the world.
Scientists Test New Gene Therapy for Vision Loss from a Mitochondrial Disease
NIH-funded study shows success in targeting mitochondrial DNA in mice.
Skyscraper Banner

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
2,600+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,800+ scientific videos