Posts Tagged ‘rna interference’

Age doesn’t matter: New genes are as essential as ancient ones

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 12-17-2010

New genes that have evolved in species as little as one million years ago – a virtual blink in evolutionary history – can be just as essential for life as ancient genes, startling new research has discovered.

Evolutionary biologists have long proposed that the genes most important to life are ancient and conserved, handed down from species to species as the “bread and butter” of biology. New genes that arise as species split off from their ancestors were thought to serve less critical roles – the “vinegar” that adds flavor to the core genes.

But when nearly 200 new genes in the fruit fly species Drosophila melanogaster were individually silenced in laboratory experiments at the University of Chicago, more than 30 percent of the knockdowns were found to kill the fly. The study, published December 17 in Science, suggests that new genes are equally important for the successful development and survival of an organism as older genes.

“A new gene is as essential as any other gene; the importance of a gene is independent of its age,” said Manyuan Long, PhD, Professor of Ecology & Evolution and senior author of the paper. “New genes are no longer just vinegar, they are now equally likely to be butter and bread. We were shocked.”

The study used technology called RNA interference to permanently block the transcription of each targeted gene into its functional product from the beginning of a fly’s life. Of the 195 young genes tested, 59 were lethal (30 percent), causing the fly to die during its development. When the same method was applied to a sample of older genes, a statistically similar figure was found: 86 of 245 genes (35 percent) were lethal when silenced.

Click here to read the full story.

La Jolla Institute to Build World’s First RNAi Genomics Research Center

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 10-19-2010

Last week the La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology announced that it will develop San Diego’s first Center for RNAi screening — a breakthrough genomics technology that will further enhance San Diego’s reputation as a national research leader and provide the local biomedical community ready access to the Nobel-Prize winning technology.

The National Institutes of Health awarded the La Jolla Institute $12.6 million to develop the Center.

Dr. Mitchell Kronenberg

“RNAi (RNA interference) allows scientists to explore new ways of disrupting disease processes based on altering gene function,” said Mitchell Kronenberg, Ph.D., La Jolla Institute president and chief scientific officer. “It is a powerful technology with the potential to transform human health and we are pleased that the NIH has entrusted us with bringing the first publically funded RNAi facility to San Diego.”

RNAi has been heralded as a revolutionary technology because it opens the door to developing new therapies for cancer and other diseases based on silencing specific genes. Its discoverers were awarded the 2006 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine.

It is generally regarded as one of the most promising drug discovery technologies available today. Scientists from all medical fields can advance their research using RNAi.

For more information see the full press release here