Gene Regulation by Natural Antisense RNAs in Yeast

Type of Award: Catalyst
Date Awarded: August 2007
Award End Date: January 2009
Amount Awarded: $ 236,000.00
PI(s): Erik J. Sontheimer, PhD, NU; Jonathan P. Staley, PhD, UChicago; Manyuan Long, PhD, UChicago;

Abstract: Cells and organisms depend on the proper functioning of their genes, many of which encode proteins that carry out essential cellular tasks. Most genes must restrict their activities to specific cell types, developmental stages, or environmental circumstances, and inappropriate gene expression causes or contributes to many diseases, including cancer. Therefore, the expression of a gene into protein must be controlled properly to maintain human health. Genes are comprised of DNA, which forms the famous double helical structure discovered by Watson and Crick. Gene expression initially involves the production of RNA, which is a chemical cousin of DNA. RNA, like DNA, has the capacity to form a double helix, and the formation of a double helix can affect RNA function and, as a consequence, gene expression. Despite this potential, the degree to which cells use RNA double helices to control gene expression is poorly understood. This study will begin to uncover the true extent of RNA double helix formation in a single cell type, and will enable researchers to test the roles of RNA double helices in specific cellular processes, including those that affect human health and disease.