NIH Research: March 2014

RNA-DNA differences are generated in human cells within seconds after RNA exits polymerase II.

Published: Cell Reports 2014 Mar 13; 6(5):906-15. @ The Authors. DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2014.01.037. Authors: IX Wang, LJ Core, H Kwak, L Brady, A Bruzel, L McDaniel, AL Richards, M Wu, Christopher Grunseich, John T Lis, Vivian G Cheung.

Link to article: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24561252 and http://www.cell.com/cell-reports/abstract/S2211-1247(14)00071-0

Researchers found that the senataxin protein may play a role in modifying RNA sequences. A group of scientists studying how RNA sequences can become different from their DNA templates were tracking the production and processing of RNA. They narrowed the timing and location of this process to the formation of RNA/DNA complexes. This paper shows that compared to the cells of an unaffected individual, an ALS4 patient’s cells and, by extension, the patient’s mutated SETX protein, bind too avidly to the newly made RNA in a naturally-occurring RNA/DNA complex, as a result these complexes are resolved too quickly. This finding allows this team and others to the next step of ALS4 research which is to determine how having too few of these RNA/DNA complexes lead to muscle weakness and other symptoms. By identifying this defect, it also allows one to search for ways to dampen the defective unwinding of the RNA/DNA complexes as a possible therapeutic strategy.

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