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454 Sequencing™ Reveals new Pathway in RNA Interference

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CuraGen Corporation's majority-owned subsidiary 454 Life Sciences has announced that research on small RNAs, conducted by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, has revealed the dual role of the ARGONAUTE 4 protein (AGO4) in RNA-directed DNA methylation.

The research, which describes a method for obtaining a view of the total small RNAs from a single sample, was published in Nature.

The study, entitled, "Distinct Catalytic and Non-Catalytic Roles of ARGONAUTE4 in RNA-directed DNA Methylation," describes how 454 Sequencing™ was used to elucidate the small RNAs associated with AGO4 and the AGO1 protein.

"Small RNAs have emerged as a means of genetic control that were completely unsuspected only 10 years ago," said Gregory Hannon of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, who led the research.

"Virtually every area of biology has been affected by the discovery of these pathways. What we are now finding is that the diversity of small RNAs in many systems is even greater than previously suspected."

"The new study shows this in Arabidopsis (a model plant), where small RNAs have a major role in controlling the epigenetic organization of the entire genome."

"Conventional DNA sequencing methods gave us glimpses of the various classes of small RNAs that exist in plants and animals," Dr. Hannon noted.

"However, only with 454 Sequencing have we been able to fully appreciate the extent of small RNA populations and the breadth of biological processes they might affect."

"The Genome Sequencer 20™ system allows researchers to rapidly characterize all of the small RNAs in their samples," said Michael Egholm, Ph.D., Vice President, Molecular Biology, 454 Life Sciences.

"454 Sequencing offers high quality, fast and accurate sequencing of small RNAs which has revolutionized research in the mechanisms of RNA interference."

This is the second paper by Dr. Hannon on the use of 454 Sequencing to study small RNA to be published by Nature.

Dr. Hannon has generously made the protocol for his method utilizing 454 Sequencing available online for download.