New method for studying gene activity developed

November 14, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Researchers from UQ's Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB), Harvard University and RocheNimblegen Inc. have developed a new method for examining genetic information that reveals clues to understanding gene structure and activity in the body.

The method, published today in the prestigious journal Nature Biotechnology, allows researchers to delver further than ever before into the .

It involves combining existing gene capture techniques with state-of-the-art 'deep sequencing' technology. Deep sequencing enables millions of different to be read in parallel.

The team, including Dr Tim Mercer, Dr Marcel Dinger, Ms Jo Crawford and Professor John Mattick from the IMB, used the new method to examine the human – the set of RNAs that are expressed in different cells at any particular point in time.

“Every cell in the body has a copy of the entire genome, but different cells use different ,” said Dr Mercer, who led the study.

“The transcriptome represents the collection of those that are being expressed in response to various developmental and environmental conditions.

“Understanding the transcriptome is important in understanding development and disease. For example, cancer researchers can examine the particular forms of the genes that are active in the lead-up to tumour development and understand how cancers form.”

The analysis showed the human transcriptome was even more complex than previously thought, and opened the door to further studies that can identify the differences in gene expression that cause variation between cells.

It also identified many new transcribed versions of important cancer-causing and developmental genes, as well as many novel RNAs that do not encode proteins, showing that our understanding of human gene expression is far from complete.

“This method, known as RNA CaptureSeq, can survey the entire genome at far greater resolution than previously possible to identify areas associated with complex diseases, and is also less expensive than traditional genetic analyses,” Professor Mattick said.

“Given these advantages, and the challenge of understanding the full range of gene products, we foresee RNA CaptureSeq as an important approach with a wide range of research and clinical applications,” he said.

Explore further: Deep sequencing study reveals new insights into human transcriptome

More information: The paper can be accessed at: www.nature.com/nbt/journal/vaop/ncurrent/abs/nbt.2024.html

Related Stories

Cancer signatures uncovered

August 15, 2008

A new systematic analysis of the relationship between the neoplastic and developmental transcriptome provides an outline of trends in cancer gene expression. The research, published recently in BioMed Central's open access ...

New technique used to profile anthrax genome

March 20, 2009

Scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology have used a new approach, known as RNA-Seq, to profile the gene expression of the bacterium that causes anthrax, Bacillus anthracis. Their study, published March 20, 2009, ...

Recommended for you

Genomes uncover life's early history

August 24, 2015

A University of Manchester scientist is part of a team which has carried out one of the biggest ever analyses of genomes on life of all forms.

Rare nautilus sighted for the first time in three decades

August 25, 2015

In early August, biologist Peter Ward returned from the South Pacific with news that he encountered an old friend, one he hadn't seen in over three decades. The University of Washington professor had seen what he considers ...

Why a mutant rice called Big Grain1 yields such big grains

August 24, 2015

(Phys.org)—Rice is one of the most important staple crops grown by humans—very possibly the most important in history. With 4.3 billion inhabitants, Asia is home to 60 percent of the world's population, so it's unsurprising ...

0 comments

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.