Nav: Home

Short RNA molecules mapped in single cell

November 01, 2016

Researchers at Karolinska Institutet have measured the absolute numbers of short, non-coding, RNA sequences in individual embryonic stem cells. The new method could improve the understanding of how our genes are regulated and different cell types develop.

When information in our genes is used, for example to build a protein, it is first translated to messenger-RNA which functions as a blueprint for the protein. Our cells also contain non-coding, short, RNA sequences that do not contribute to the formation of proteins and whose functions are partly unknown. The best known of these is micro RNA (miRNAs), which can interact with the messenger RNA, and thereby regulate genes and cell function.

Researchers at Karolinska Institutet have now mapped the presence of short RNA-sequences in an individual cell. Previous research on short RNA molecules is based on analysis of many cells simultaneously, making it difficult to study the precise function.

"Our knowledge of the function of short RNA molecules is quite general. We have a picture of the general mechanisms, but it is less clear what specific role these molecules play in different types of cells or diseases," says Rickard Sandberg, professor at the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, who is also affiliated to the Stockholm center of Ludwig Cancer Research.

The analysis was done using single-cell transcriptomics, a technique which makes it possible to measure the absolute numbers of short RNA molecules in a cell. Two types of embryonic stem cells were used, intended to mimic the early embryo, before and after it has attached to the uterine lining.

The researchers could detect large numbers of small RNAs in both cell states, including miRNA as well as shorter RNA fragments (tRNA and snoRNA) whose function is largely unknown. The researchers also found that large numbers of miRNAs are expressed differently in the two cell states.

"This is basic research and a demonstration that the method works, giving suggestions for further research. To map the levels of short RNA molecules in a cell is a first step in identifying the specific function of these molecules," says Omid Faridani, one of the lead authors of the study.

In the long run, Rickard Sandberg can imagine clinical applications of the method.

"We are, for example, interested in the role short RNA molecules play during embryonic development. We hope that, with more knowledge, this method could be used to identify which embryos have the best chance to develop, which would then be used to improve current IVF treatments," he says.
-end-
Publication

"Single-cell sequencing of the small-RNA transcriptome"
Omid R. Faridani, Ilgar Abdullayev, Michael Hagemann-Jensen, John P. Schell, Fredrik Lanner and Rickard Sandberg
Nature Biotechnology, online 31 October 2016. DOI: 10.1038/nbt.3701

Karolinska Institutet

Related Embryonic Stem Cells Articles:

New insights into mechanisms regulating gene expression in embryonic stem cells
Researchers from Turku, Finland, have discovered new information about the mechanisms which maintain gene activity in human embryonic stem cells.
New tools to study the origin of embryonic stem cells
Researchers at Karolinska Institutet have identified cell surface markers specific for the very earliest stem cells in the human embryo.
Scientists approve the similarity between reprogrammed and embryonic stem cells
Researchers from the Vavilov Institute of General Genetics, Research Institute of Physical Chemical Medicine and Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT) have concluded that reprogramming does not create differences between reprogrammed and embryonic stem cells.
Drug makes stem cells become 'embryonic' again
If you want to harness the full power of stem cells, all you might need is an eraser -- in the form of a drug that can erase the tiny labels that tell cells where to start reading their DNA.
Oncogene controls stem cells in early embryonic development
Many animal species delay the development of their embryos to ensure that their offspring is born at a favorable time.
Are embryonic stem cells and artificial stem cells equivalent?
Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School have found new evidence suggesting some human induced pluripotent stem cells are the 'functional equivalent' of human embryonic stem cells, a finding that may begin to settle a long running argument.
UCSF researchers control embryonic stem cells with light
UCSF researchers have for the first time developed a method to precisely control embryonic stem cell differentiation with beams of light, enabling them to be transformed into neurons in response to a precise external cue.
Protein plays unexpected role in embryonic stem cells
A protein long believed to only guard the nucleus also regulates gene expression and stem cell development.
Nuclear transfer appears superior for creating embryonic stem cells
Scientists at Oregon Health & Science University have found that a process called 'somatic cell nuclear transfer' is much better and more accurate at reprogramming human skin cells to become embryonic stem cells -- capable of transforming into any cell type in the body -- than an alternative process that produces cells similar to embryonic stem cells, but with many more epigenetic abnormalities.
Embryonic stem cells offer new treatment for multiple sclerosis
A novel approach to treating multiple sclerosis using human embryonic stem cells appears to offer better treatment results than stem cells derived from human adult bone marrow, scientists in the University of Connecticut's Technology Incubation Program say.

Related Embryonic Stem Cells Reading:

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

Climate Crisis
There's no greater threat to humanity than climate change. What can we do to stop the worst consequences? This hour, TED speakers explore how we can save our planet and whether we can do it in time. Guests include climate activist Greta Thunberg, chemical engineer Jennifer Wilcox, research scientist Sean Davis, food innovator Bruce Friedrich, and psychologist Per Espen Stoknes.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#527 Honey I CRISPR'd the Kids
This week we're coming to you from Awesome Con in Washington, D.C. There, host Bethany Brookshire led a panel of three amazing guests to talk about the promise and perils of CRISPR, and what happens now that CRISPR babies have (maybe?) been born. Featuring science writer Tina Saey, molecular biologist Anne Simon, and bioethicist Alan Regenberg. A Nobel Prize winner argues banning CRISPR babies won’t work Geneticists push for a 5-year global ban on gene-edited babies A CRISPR spin-off causes unintended typos in DNA News of the first gene-edited babies ignited a firestorm The researcher who created CRISPR twins defends...