Study of MicroRNA Helps NIH Scientists Unlock Secrets of Immune Cells

From NIH News – Researchers at the NIH looked at mouse immune cells and examined the types, amount, and activity of microRNAs, genetic components that help regulate the production of proteins. Their study provides a map to the variety of microRNAs contained within mouse immune cells and reveals the complexity of cellular protein regulation. The study appears online in the journal Immunity.

The NIH scientists used a new microsequencing technology to comprehensively identify all of the different miRNAs existing in mouse immune cells. In addition to increasing the number of known miRNAs, the scientists also discovered several cellular mechanisms that regulate miRNA abundance. The study found that some miRNA constructs exist in a dormant state within the nucleus until they receive signals from the epigenome to become active. The epigenome regulates transcription and comprises all of the non-genetic material in the nucleus. Other miRNAs, the researchers determined, are not hampered by these epigenetic mechanisms and are controlled simply through transcription. However, for some of these miRNAs, abundance depends upon the amount of target messenger RNA available in the cell. (read more… )

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