Nav: Home

Cell study reveals key mechanism linked to healthy development

March 07, 2019

Scientists have shed light on how healthy cells develop by identifying the role of key molecules involved.

The components, known as R-loops, are formed during cell development and have been shown to play an important role in the process. The latest finding overturns previous thinking that R-loops, formed from the genetic material that makes up DNA, were harmful to cells.

Researchers found that R-loops work together with a group of cell proteins, known as Polycomb, to control genes that are important for development in humans and other mammals.

These genes regulate the fate and function of each cell in the body, for example helping to control whether they become neurons or muscle cells.

Findings from the study by the University of Edinburgh answer fundamental questions about cell biology. They could also inform research into health conditions that can occur when these processes misfire, and point towards new avenues of research towards drug treatments.

Further research could clarify the role of R-loops in diseases in which they are known to be associated. These include neurogenerative disorders such as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and the developmental condition Fragile X.

Future studies may include examining R-loops in developing brain cells, with a view to informing the design of drugs to treat these neurological conditions. The findings also have important implications for some cancers, which are associated with faulty Polycomb proteins or the over-production of R-loops.

The study, published in Molecular Cell, was carried out in collaboration between the Max Delbruck Centre for Molecular Medicine in Berlin and the University of Edinburgh, supported by Wellcome and the European Research Council.

Dr Konstantina Skourti-Stathaki, of the University of Edinburgh's School of Biological Sciences, who led the study, said: "This new insight answers fundamental questions, opening new avenues for future research and possible routes towards drug treatments."
-end-


University of Edinburgh

Related Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Articles:

Researchers perform thousands of mutations to understand amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
Researchers from IBEC and CRG in Barcelona use a technique called high-throughput mutagenesis to study Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), with unexpected results.
How to improve multiple sclerosis therapy
Medications currently used to treat multiple sclerosis (MS) can merely reduce relapses during the initial relapsing-remitting phase.
Putting the brakes on lateral root development
Biologists have discovered a cellular transporter that links two of the most powerful hormones in plant development -- auxin and cytokinin -- and shows how they regulate root initiation and progression.
Lateral extra-articular tenodesis reduces hamstring autograft
The addition of lateral extra-articular tenodesis to a hamstring autograft in knee surgery in young active patients significantly reduces graft failure and persistent anterolateral rotatory laxity at two years post operatively.
Obesity worsens disability in multiple sclerosis
Obesity is an aggravating factor in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, the most common form of the disease.
More Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis News and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Erasing The Stigma
Many of us either cope with mental illness or know someone who does. But we still have a hard time talking about it. This hour, TED speakers explore ways to push past — and even erase — the stigma. Guests include musician and comedian Jordan Raskopoulos, neuroscientist and psychiatrist Thomas Insel, psychiatrist Dixon Chibanda, anxiety and depression researcher Olivia Remes, and entrepreneur Sangu Delle.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#537 Science Journalism, Hold the Hype
Everyone's seen a piece of science getting over-exaggerated in the media. Most people would be quick to blame journalists and big media for getting in wrong. In many cases, you'd be right. But there's other sources of hype in science journalism. and one of them can be found in the humble, and little-known press release. We're talking with Chris Chambers about doing science about science journalism, and where the hype creeps in. Related links: The association between exaggeration in health related science news and academic press releases: retrospective observational study Claims of causality in health news: a randomised trial This...