Prince George, BC – UNBC researchers have discovered a new way to study gene splicing in pre-messenger ribonucleic acid (RNA) which could help provide a better understanding of how the process works in humans and lead to development of new treatments for genetic diseases.
UNBC Professor of Chemistry Dr. Stephen Rader and his team of researchers studied the splicing process in red alga and discovered it is the first known organism to splice genes without the help of a specific type of small nuclear RNA called U1. They published their research in the prestigious journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week.
UNBC researchers Elizabeth Dunn, Stephen Rader, and Martha Stark. Download High resolution image.
Traditionally, researchers have used human cells in culture or yeast cells when studying the process cells use to splice genes. Rader and his team believe by looking at an organism that uses a simpler process it could give researchers a better understanding of how the process works.
“By finding a very simple version of the cellular machinery used to splice genes, we can determine which parts are essential to the process and which parts are accessories,” Rader says.
In humans, defective splicing leads to diseases ranging from cancer to cystic fibrosis to spinal muscular atrophy.
“About 60 per cent of diseases that are caused by genetic mutations are due to problems of splicing,” Rader says. “It is important to understand how splicing works so we can find ways to treat these diseases.”
The abstract of the article, titled Dramatically reduced spliceosome in Cyanidioschyzon merolae, is available at: http://ow.ly/JQCp0