MAY 14, 2015 03:47 PM PDT

Long Non-Coding RNAs Steer Bodily Functions

Understanding the function of certain groups of non-coding RNAs will lead to a greater understanding of how certain illnesses that only occur in humans are caused or prevented, according to Stefanie Dimmeler, director of the Institute of Cardiovascular Regeneration in Frankfurt, Germany, and one of the first researchers to prove that a sub-group of micro-RNAs plays a role in regenerating blood vessels.
Long non-coding RNAs determine cardiovascular function.
According to a website about epigenetics, non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) are functional RNA molecules that are transcribed from DNA but are not translated into proteins. In general ncRNAs function to regulate gene expression at the transcriptional and post-transcriptional level. Those ncRNAs that appear to be involved in epigenetic processes can be divided into two main groups; the short ncRNAs and the long ncRNAs. The three major classes of short non-coding RNAs are microRNAs (miRNAs), short interfering RNAs (siRNAs), and piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs). Both major groups are shown to play a role in heterochromatin formation, histone modification, DNA methylation targeting, and gene silencing (http://www.whatisepigenetics.com/non-coding-rna/ ).

Dimmeler, who specializes in determining the basic mechanisms underlying cardiovascular disease and vessel growth in order to develop new therapies for improving the treatment of cardiovascular disease, believes that a large group of non-coding RNAs plays an important role in creating heart attacks, strokes and cancer. The objective of her research is to identify new treatments for preventing arteriosclerosis, in order to reduce the incidence of heart attacks and strokes.

As the recipient of the ERC Advanced Investigator Grant from the European Research Council (ERC), she will be able to study these genes, which appear to perform steering functions in the body. ERC has awarded Dimmeler 2.5 million Euros over the next five years for this purpose.

Dimmeler related that approximately 70 percent of human genes provide the blueprint for biomolecules whose function is now being explored. These non-coding RNAs are non translated into proteins; instead, they perform steering functions in the body, as explained in an article in Medical News Today (http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/293879.php).

"If you asked me what was special about the evolutionary development of human beings, I would say it´s the more than 30,000 non-coding RNA, most of which we only share with primates," said Dimmeler. The article went on to say, "From the perspective of her research area, cardiovascular regeneration, it is especially noteworthy that vascular illnesses like arteriosclerosis, which causes heart attacks, only occur in their typical form in humans. There are many indicators that long, non-coding RNAs, lncRNAs for short, control these illnesses. They affect the inside layer of the blood vessels, known as endothelial cells, and help supply the organs and tissues with oxygen and nutrients."

Dimmeler is also attempting to determine whether ring-shaped lncRNAs, which are subject to special protective mechanisms once they are released into the blood, can be used as biomarkers for identifying illnesses in the vascular system or the heart. In order to do this, she will work with her group to create tests that can find these biomolecules in patients' blood during the different stages of cardiovascular illnesses.
About the Author
  • Ilene Schneider is the owner of Schneider the Writer, a firm that provides communications for health care, high technology and service enterprises. Her specialties include public relations, media relations, advertising, journalistic writing, editing, grant writing and corporate creativity consulting services. Prior to starting her own business in 1985, Ilene was editor of the Cleveland edition of TV Guide, associate editor of School Product News (Penton Publishing) and senior public relations representative at Beckman Instruments, Inc. She was profiled in a book, How to Open and Operate a Home-Based Writing Business and listed in Who's Who of American Women, Who's Who in Advertising and Who's Who in Media and Communications. She was the recipient of the Women in Communications, Inc. Clarion Award in advertising. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Ilene and her family have lived in Irvine, California, since 1978.
You May Also Like
NOV 20, 2018
Genetics & Genomics
NOV 20, 2018
Scientists Link Three Genes to Miscarriage
A miscarriage can be a devastating experience, and researchers are trying to learn more about genetic factors that may influence it....
DEC 21, 2018
Genetics & Genomics
DEC 21, 2018
Red Wolf DNA Discovered in Unusual Canines
Red wolves were thought to be extinct in the wild and were listed as such in 1980. Researchers have now found red wolf DNA in Texas canines...
DEC 22, 2018
Videos
DEC 22, 2018
Using Genomics to Fight Cancer
Genetic sequencing can help clinicians decide on the best treatment for individual patients....
DEC 26, 2018
Immunology
DEC 26, 2018
When the Immune System Makes a Mistake: Autoimmunity
A team from Scripps Research has found a molecular cause of a group of rare autoimmune disorders in which the immune system attacks the body's healthy cells....
DEC 29, 2018
Videos
DEC 29, 2018
The Links Between the Gut Microbiome and the Brain
The gut microbiome is a very complex thing that requires research combining many fields of study....
JAN 20, 2019
Genetics & Genomics
JAN 20, 2019
Identifying Genetic Regions That Influence Lifespan
It may one day be possible to predict how long a person will live by looking at a few regions of a person's genome....
Loading Comments...