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Innovative technique reveals effects of environmental conditions on RNA structure in living cells

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The influence of environmental conditions on the dynamic structure of RNA in living cells has been revealed by an innovative technique developed by researchers at the John Innes Center.

The result of a collaborative effort between the groups of Professor Dame Caroline Dean FRS and Dr. Yiliang Ding, the study advances our understanding of what happens at the cellular level in response to environmental cues. This raises the possibility of using this knowledge to fine-tune crops or develop RNA-based therapeutics against diseases such as COVID-19 (SARS-COV-2).

Previous studies by these groups have shown that two important genetic components are cold When FLCMore Interactions that regulate plant molecular responses to heat and cold.

However, it was unclear how the RNA structure is formed. cold contribute to the regulation of FLCMore – A genetic brake on plant flowering.

Researchers in the Ding group have developed a new technique that can profile RNA structures at single-molecule resolution in living cells.

Using this technique, we were able to observe structural changes in warm conditions cold RNA adopts three main structures, and these shapes and proportions changed after plants were exposed to cold temperatures.

They noticed an RNA conformational change in one hypervariable region of the RNA. cold changed FLCMore Expression.

By introducing mutations into the sequence of this RNA region, researchers were able to alter the flowering time of plants.

Our study shows that RNA can adopt different conformations or structures. These diverse conformations change dynamically in response to external conditions. In this study, we altered plant flowering time by modulating RNA structure. ”

Dr. Irian Ding

Understanding how RNA structure affects RNA function and the ability to manipulate plant genomes at the RNA cellular level will increase the potential to engineer crop types with more desirable agronomic and nutritional traits.

The group says the technique could also be applied to human cells, and the RNA structure could serve as a guide for designing RNA-based therapeutics.

Lead author Dr. Pan Zhu said: “

The group now has their New technologies with RNA-based industry or academic collaborators.

During gene expression, DNA is transcribed into RNA, which is then used to make proteins. Because RNA is single-stranded, it is often referred to as a ‘thin molecule’, but recent studies have revealed the diversity of its structures and how these structures affect gene regulation and protein synthesis. It became clear.

in plants FLCMore Acts as a brake for flowering. This is an important part of the molecular mechanism that ensures that plants only flower when exposed to the required level of cold. cold antisense to FLCMore, binds to it and blocks it from being transferred after cold exposure. Knowledge of these mechanisms is key to understanding the impacts of climate change.


Journal reference:

Yang, M., and others. (2022) in vivo single-molecule analysis revealed diversity in COOLAIR RNA structures. Nature.