Mapping the cancer genome wilderness

A huge cancer genome project has highlighted how DNA that doesn’t code for proteins is still important for keeping our cells on Read more

Stem-like CD8 T cells stay in lymph nodes/spleen

Virus-specific CD8 T cells accumulate in lymph nodes and in other organs, without circulating in abundance in the Read more

To fight cancer, mix harmless reovirus with 'red devil'

The GDBBS symposium included a talk about the next step: attaching the souped-up reovirus to Read more

long intergenic noncoding RNA

No junk: long RNA mimics DNA, restrains hormone responses

It arises from what scientists previously described as “junk DNA” or “the dark matter of the genome,” but this gene is definitely not junk. The gene Gas5 acts as a brake on steroid hormone receptors, making it a key player in diseases such as hormone-sensitive prostate and breast cancer.

Unlike many genes scientists are familiar with, Gas5 does not encode a protein. It gets transcribed into RNA, like many other genes, but with Gas5 the RNA is what’s important, not the protein. The RNA accumulates in cells subjected to stress and soaks up steroid hormone receptors, preventing them from binding DNA and turning genes on and off.

Emory researchers have obtained a detailed picture of how the Gas5 RNA interacts with steroid hormone receptors. Their findings show how the Gas5 RNA takes the place of DNA, and give hints as to how it evolved.

The results were published Friday in Nature Communications.

Scientists used to think that much of the genome was “fly-over country”: not encoding any protein and not even accessed much by the cell’s gene-reading machinery. Recent studies have revealed that a large part of the genome is copied into lincRNAs (long intergenic noncoding RNAs), of which Gas5 is an example. Read more

Posted on by Quinn Eastman in Cancer, Immunology Leave a comment