Molecular biologists at UT Southwestern Medical Center have identified a gene called NORAD that helps maintain the proper number of chromosomes in cells, and that when inactivated, causes the number of chromosomes in a cell to become unstable, a key feature of cancer cells.
Previously, genes that encode the recipe for making proteins have been implicated in maintaining the proper number of chromosomes in a cell. The NORAD gene, however, does not encode a protein. Instead, NORAD produces a long noncoding RNA, a type of molecule that was not previously known to be important in chromosome maintenance, the researchers report in the journal Cell.
“In the absence of the NORAD RNA, the number of chromosomes in cells becomes highly abnormal,” explained Dr. Joshua Mendell, Professor of Molecular Biology at UT Southwestern and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. “This is an entirely new function for a noncoding RNA and…
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