Thursday, November 02, 2006

RNA activation   posted by amnestic @ 11/02/2006 02:57:00 PM

I can't find the original research article yet, but Science has a news article about a finding from the UCSF lab of Rajvir Dahiya indicating that small RNAs can activate genes instead of inhibiting them. The discovery of RNA interference recently led to a Nobel. Small double-stranded RNAs can be chopped in two by the cell and carried around as templates to find other RNAs with matching sequences. When these target RNAs are found they are usually destroyed or at least sequestered. Instead, these folks are reporting on observation of the opposite effect. The targeted gene is activated to produce more protein. CRAZY!! This is really nice in terms of gene therapy. I kept dreaming up schemes to activate genes that we need more of by inhibiting their inhibitor, but this is so much simpler... maybe...

A note of caution, the double-negative inhibition thing could still be what's happening here:

One key question is whether Li's RNAs are activating genes by silencing others, which would just be RNAi by another name. For example, proteins called negative transcription factors can prevent genes from being transcribed; silencing the genes for these proteins could activate genes they control. Although the UCSF group has not found evidence that this is happening, "formally, that's still a possibility," says Rossi.