A tiny snippet of RNA called microRNA-122 is produced only within the liver where it regulates the activity of many genes. New research described this week in Molecular Cell shed lights on a mechanism by which this microRNA may protect cells from turning malignant.
Joseph Luna, a postdoc in Charles M. Rice‘s lab who trained as a graduate student with Robert B. Darnell, used CLIP, a technique developed in Darnell’s lab, to identify 11,000 genes regulated by microRNA-122 in mouse liver cells. Working with colleagues at The Ohio State University, the Rockefeller team then zeroed in on a single gene, BCL9, which has been linked to a common form of liver cancer, and examined the signaling pathways it activates when freed from the microRNA.
The scientists say their findings could speed the search for new drug targets and prediction tools.