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Scientists solve mystery of gene key to brain development

June 18, 2022 23:42 Is

Washington [US]June 18 (ANI): Scientists are starting to understand the precise functioning of a type of gene which, unlike other genes, does not code for proteins – the building blocks of life.
New research led by the University of Bath shows the mechanism by which genes coding for a subset of long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) interact with neighboring genes to regulate the development and function of essential nerve cells. It was published in the journal PLOS Genetics.
Despite their prevalence in genes coding for lncRNA in the genome (estimates range from 18,000 to 60,000 lncRNA genes in the human genome compared to 20,000 protein-coding genes), these segments of DNA were once written as junk because The information contained within them is not used to produce proteins.
However, it has now become clear that some lncRNAs are anything but scrap, and may play an important role in restoring bodily function in people who have suffered severe nerve damage.

Although the function of most lncRNA genes remains a mystery, a subset are co-expressed with neighboring genes in the brain that code for proteins involved in gene expression control. In other words, the genes for these lncRNAs and their protein-coding neighbors serve as a pair. Together, they control the development and function of essential nerve cells, particularly in the brain during fetal development and early life.
The new study describes the regulatory pathway involved in controlling the levels of one of these gene pairs. Their location and quantity in the genome need to be carefully coordinated, as does the timing of their activity.
“We previously defined one of the most profound functions for lncRNA in the brain and our new study identifies a critical signaling pathway that functions to coordinate the expression of this lncRNA and key protein-coding genes, Dr Keith explains. Vance is the study’s lead author in the Department of Biology and Biochemistry at Bath.
“This new research moves us closer to understanding the basic biology of nerve cells and how they are produced. Regenerative medicine is the final game and with further research, we hope to develop a deeper understanding of how the brain works.” How lncRNA genes work.”
He adds: “This knowledge could be important to scientists looking for ways to replace faulty neurons and restore nerve function – for example in people who have had a stroke.” (ANI)

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