Small bits of RNA called microRNAs, which can influence the way a cell’s genes are turned on and off, can single-handedly cause a connective tissue cell from human skin to transform into a nerve cell, new research shows.
The study was conducted by Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) scientists who first showed two years ago that microRNAs help immature neural stem cells develop into mature neurons. The new work demonstrates that in developing neurons, microRNAs aren’t just handmaidens to change; they’re actually running the show.
“This is the first time microRNAs have been shown to have this instructive role in mammalian or human cells,” said HHMI investigator Gerald R. Crabtree of Stanford University, whose work uncovering this premier role for two particular microRNAs was published July 13, 2011, in the journal Nature. “MicroRNAs were thought not to be capable of accomplishing fate transformation,” Crabtree said.... Read More - http://www.msrc.co.uk/index.cfm/fuseact ... ageid/1826