from Genetic Engineering News –
Researchers at MIT say they have deciphered the structure of one type of long noncoding RNA (lncRNA) and used that information to figure out how it interacts with a cellular protein to control the development of heart muscle cells. This is one of first studies to link the structure of lncRNAs to their function.
“Emerging data points to fundamental roles for many of these molecules in development and disease, so we believe that determining the structure of lncRNAs is critical for understanding how they function,” says Laurie Boyer, Ph.D., the Irwin and Helen Sizer Career Development Associate Professor of Biology and Biological Engineering at MIT and the senior author of the study (“A G-Rich Motif in the lncRNA Braveheart Interacts with a Zinc-Finger Transcription Factor to Specify the Cardiovascular Lineage”), which appears in Molecular Cell.
Learning more about how lncRNAs control cell differentiation could offer a new approach to developing drugs for patients whose hearts have been damaged by cardiovascular disease, aging, or cancer.
Dr. Boyer’s lab previously identified a mouse lncRNA known as Braveheart, which is found at higher levels in the heart compared to other tissues. In 2013, she showed that this RNA molecule is necessary for normal development of heart muscle cells.
In the new study, the researchers decided to investigate which regions of the 600-nucleotide RNA molecule are crucial to its function…