Cell division requires a balanced level of non-coding RNA for chromosome stability

phys.org | 5/22/2019 | Staff
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HKU School of Biological Sciences Assistant Professor Dr Karen Yuen and Postdoctoral Fellow Dr Yick Hin Ling show too many or too little cenRNA will result in cell division error. Credit: Hong Kong University.

Our genetic code is stored in chromosomes that are composed of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). To make sure the genetic code is maintained accurately in all the cells, our cells must replicate precisely and distribute its chromosomes equally to its two daughter cells during every cell cycle. Errors in chromosome separation result in cells with an abnormal number of chromosomes, which may cause spontaneous abortion, genetic diseases or cancers. One chromosomal element that is important for proper chromosome segregation is the centromere, a unique region of DNA on the chromosome that directs chromosome movement during cell division.

Assistant - Professor - Dr - Karen - Wing

Assistant Professor Dr. Karen Wing Yee Yuen and Postdoctoral Fellow Dr. Yick Hin Ling from the School of Biological Sciences, University of Hong Kong (HKU), discovered that centromeric DNA is used as a template to produce a non-protein coding, centromeric RNA (ribonucleic acid), that is essential for chromosome stability. If there is too much or too little centromeric RNA (cenRNA), the centromere will be defective and chromosomes will be lost. The findings were recently published in one of the top multidisciplinary journals, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). This research article is recommended by F1000Prime, whose members selected approximately the top 2% of all published articles in the biology and medical sciences each year, and the recommended Faculty commented that this PNAS article is of special significance and an emerging frontier in the centromere biology field.

The DNA of our chromosomes codes for about 20,000 proteins. When the cell needs to produce a particular protein, such as insulin, the segment of DNA molecule coding for insulin, known as a gene, is...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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