Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Revealing RNA Roles

A role for 'long non-coding' RNAs in nerve development revealed

10 January 2019

Revealing RNA Roles

Genes and proteins are the headliners when it comes to the show your cells put on as they develop and grow. But what about your RNA molecules? They’re just as important but less is known about what they do during development. Researchers now shine a light on the role of a specific group of RNA molecules called long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) in the development of motor nerve cells. They found certain lncRNAs accumulated in developing motor nerve cells in mice and so they created mutant mice lacking these lncRNAs. The team then imaged embryonic front leg motor nerves using fluorescence microscopy and constructed 3D models (pictured) of them. The mutants (right) showed reduced branching in particular nerves (yellow and purple), highlighting how lncRNAs do indeed affect nerve development. lncRNAs may steal more of the limelight, as these results raise questions over what else they may be up to in other developing tissues.

Written by Lux Fatimathas

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