In scientific first, researchers visualize naturally occurring mRNA

Jan 16, 2011

In a technique that could eventually shed light on how gene expression influences human disease, scientists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have for the first time ever successfully visualized single molecules of naturally-occurring messenger RNA (mRNA) transcribed in living mammalian cells. The scientific achievement is detailed in the January 16 online edition of Nature Methods.

Gene expression involves transcribing a gene's DNA into molecules of mRNA. These molecules then migrate from a cell's nucleus into the , where they serve as blueprints for protein construction.

Robert Singer, Ph.D., codirector of the Gruss Lipper Biophotonics Center and professor and cochair of anatomy and structural biology, was senior author of the paper. Working with his colleagues, he generated a transgenic mouse in which genes coding for the structural protein beta actin would, when expressed, yield fluorescently labeled mRNA. Beta actin mRNA is a highly expressed molecule found in all mammalian tissues.

The technique used by the Einstein researchers should be applicable for monitoring the expression of any gene of interest. Prior to this study, Einstein researchers had monitored mRNA molecules transcribed by artificial genes.

"Our report is the first demonstration that our technique can be used to visualize the expression of an essential gene in ," said Timothée Lionnet, Ph.D., a research fellow in Dr. Singer's lab and lead author of the paper. "We can study beta actin RNA molecules over their life cycle in a variety of cell types and discover where they are distributed within the cell. This has important consequences for human disease like cancer, since the way molecules of mRNA are localized within tumor cells correlates with the ability of these cells to spread, or metastasize."

Explore further: Dead feeder cells support stem cell growth

More information: The study, "A transgenic mouse for in vivo detection of endogenous labeled mRNA," will be published in the January 16 online edition of Nature Methods.

Related Stories

Study of how genes activate yields surprising discovery

Dec 05, 2010

Scientists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have made an unexpected finding about the method by which certain genes are activated. Contrary to what researchers have traditionally assumed, genes ...

Scientists identify gene in breast cancer pathway

May 12, 2009

Scientists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have discovered how a gene crucial in triggering the spread of breast cancer is turned on and off. The findings could help predict whether breast tumors ...

Mutant host cell protein sequesters critical HIV-1 element

Jan 15, 2009

Scientists have identified a new way to inhibit a molecule that is critical for HIV pathogenesis. The research, published by Cell Press in the January 16th issue of the journal Molecular Cell, presents a target for develo ...

Nature study shows how molecules escape from the nucleus

Sep 15, 2010

By constructing a microscope apparatus that achieves resolution never before possible in living cells, researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have illuminated the molecular ...

Recommended for you

Dead feeder cells support stem cell growth

Apr 24, 2015

Stem cells naturally cling to feeder cells as they grow in petri dishes. Scientists have thought for years that this attachment occurs because feeder cells serve as a support system, providing stems cells ...

Improving accuracy in genome editing

Apr 23, 2015

Imagine a day when scientists are able to alter the DNA of organisms in the lab in the search for answers to a host of questions. Or imagine a day when doctors treat genetic disorders by administering drugs ...

Drug research enhanced by fragment screening libraries

Apr 22, 2015

Generation of fragment screening libraries could enhance the analysis and application of natural products for medicinal chemistry and drug discovery, according to Griffith University's Professor Ronald Quinn.

Decoding the cell's genetic filing system

Apr 22, 2015

A fully extended strand of human DNA measures about five feet in length. Yet it occupies a space just one-tenth of a cell by wrapping itself around histones—spool-like proteins—to form a dense hub of ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.