Sci. STKE, 12 August 2003
RNA Sorting Out Pre-Messenger RNA Processing
Two methods have been developed to screen modifications that expand the number of protein products that arise from pre-mRNA molecules. The select group of pre-mRNAs that undergo adenosine to inosine (A-to-I) editing, an enzyme-mediated modification that can expand the repertoire of proteins encoded by a given gene, has been discovered largely by chance. Using a comparative genomics strategy, Hoopengardner et al. identified a signature sequence for RNA editing and used it to identify 16 new edited genes in fruit flies and 1 new edited gene in mammals. The nature of these genes suggests that a primary role of A-to-I RNA editing is the modification of fast signaling components within the nervous system. One way in which an organism as complex as the human being results from a relatively small complement of genes is through processes such as alternative pre-mRNA splicing, which can produce thousands of distinct protein isoforms from a single gene. To facilitate the study of the alternatively spliced transcriptome, Zhu et al. developed a single molecule-based technology, "digital polony exon-profiling," that allowed them to identify and quantify individual splicing variants. This technology will help future studies on the role of specific splicing events in normal development and in disease.
Citation: Sorting Out Pre-Messenger RNA Processing. Sci. STKE 2003, tw319 (2003).
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