Micro-RNAs fight high cholesterol
March 06, 2012
For the first time, scientists are now able to examine the functions of microRNAs in adult mammals. This breakthrough has been made possible by a new method invented by Stefan Ameres of the IMBA – Institute for Molecular Biotechnology. The method is now being used to develop a treatment for high blood cholesterol.
DNA is known as the carrier of genetic information. Its genes determine which protein molecules a cell produces. But few people know that probably more than half of these protein-coding genes are controlled by tiny ribonucleic acids called microRNAs. They block the messenger RNAs that are meant to transport information from the DNA to the protein synthesis sites, and thus prevent certain proteins from being formed.
Through their influence on gene regulation, microRNAs play a significant role in the development of both various tissues and various diseases, for example metabolic disorders and cancer. Studying their functions in mammals had been difficult until now, as breeding the knock-out mouse lines required is highly complex and expensive.