from Genetic Engineering News
Scientists from the University of São Paulo (USP) have identified an RNA molecule known as INXS that, although containing no instructions for the production of a protein, modulates the action of an important gene that impacts apoptosis.
According to Sergio Verjovski-Almeida, Ph.D., professor at the USP Chemistry Institute, INXS expression is generally diminished in cancer cells, and methods that are capable of stimulating the production of this noncoding RNA can be used to treat tumors. In experiments on mice, the USP scientists were able to effect a 10-fold reduction in the volume of subcutaneous malignant tumors by administering local injections of a plasmid containing INXS.
The team’s findings (“Long noncoding RNA INXS is a critical mediator of BCL-XS induced apoptosis”) were published in Nucleic Acids Research.
The group headed by Dr. Verjovski-Almeida at USP has been investigating the regulatory role of so-called intronic nonprotein-coding genes—those found in the same region of the genome as a coding gene but on the opposite DNA strand. INXS, for example, is an RNA expressed on the opposite strand of a gene coding for the BCL-X protein.
“We were studying several protein-coding genes involved in cell death in search of evidence that one of them was regulated by intronic noncoding RNA. That was when we found the gene for BCL-X, which is located on chromosome 20,” he explained.