Simons-Supported Research Shows Link Between Non-Coded Portions of Genome and Cancer
The human body produces 100,000 or more different proteins. Yet, amazingly, only two percent of the human genome actually encodes proteins. Nearly 80 percent of the rest of the genome is transcribed into RNA that does not code for proteins. Two big questions facing scientists are: How much of this “non-coding” RNA is actually functional? And does it play a role in disease?
A team of scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) screened thousands of non-coding RNAs to find those that were expressed at high levels in two types of aggressive breast cancer. As they describe today in a paper appearing in Cell Reports, when they reduced the level of some of the most over-expressed of these RNAs from mammary tumor samples, cellular features characteristic of cancer spread were significantly reduced.
Of the handful of different types of non-coding RNA, the most abundant and least understood are long non-coding RNAs, or lncRNAs. About 16,000 lncRNAs have been identified in humans, but functions for the vast majority are unknown...