Mexican scientist Juan Miranda Rios of the Biomedical Research Institute National Autonomous University of Mexico (IIBO-UNAM) discovered a small molecule of ribonucleic acid (RNA in Spanish or RNA in English) whose involvement is involved in the regulation of genes related to the processing of various sugars within the human body. The molecule, named AzuCR, is a chain composed of 164 nitrogenous bases and participates in the formation of a small protein of 28 amino acids.
“By knowing the functions of RNA, we can attack complex problems such as obesity, diabetes and cancer in the long run”, commented the Coordinator of the Nutritional Genetics Unit at the Peripheral Unit of IIBO at the National Institute of Pediatrics.
The chain of life, known as deoxyribonucleic acid or DNA, for its acronym in English, contains the information that makes up every living organism, but without someone to translate that information, a cell can be formed and it is the function of ribonucleic acid, or RNA, that allows the expression or production of proteins.
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The studies that led to this discovery in the 1960s were done in bacteria, and later found the same in more complex organisms. In the early nineties it was discovered that there were RNAs that also had the ability to regulate gene expression, and they were called minis because they range in size from 30 to 300 bases in length and when joined to other RNAs If they are, they affect the ability to produce proteins. ,
“Previously, RNA was hardly considered, what was important in cells was DNA and proteins, as it was not believed that they had functions in the regulation of genetic expression,” he said.
It has also been added that some of these small molecules can also produce small proteins that have important functions in the virulence of pathogenic bacteria, for this reason they are also called dual-function RNAs.
sugar and sugar
The short chain was discovered by Miranda Ríos while in the laboratory of Gisela Storrs from the United States National Institutes of Health.
“When I pointed out that the expression of this small RNA is controlled by various sugars, my boss, Dr. Storz, in the United States asked me how to say sugar in Spanish, so the RNA was called azuCR And it encodes the protein AzuC, hence the name linked to its functions”, commented the researcher.
After this sabbatical stay at UNAM, the researcher continued his work until he wrote the article “Dual function AzuCR RNA controls carbon metabolism” published in 2022 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) .
Some double RNAs have important roles in the virulence of some pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus or Vibrio cholerae, so knowing how these small RNAs and their proteins work provides guidelines for the design of therapeutic strategies that eliminate their function. and causes improvement in human health.
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It is possible that the study of these molecules has implications for human health, as some diseases in humans may be caused by failure to produce certain small RNAs or small proteins such as the AzuCR or AzuC proteins. So far, a dozen RNAs with dual functions have been discovered, three of them thanks to studies of the bacterium Escherichia coli (E. coli), one of which was recently named by a university researcher.