Brain Gain: Odd RNA converts stem cells into neurons | Science News



Support credible science journalism.

Subscribe to Science News today.


Brain Gain: Odd RNA converts stem cells into neurons

9:00am, March 17, 2004

Like a bicycle messenger carrying blueprints across town, ribonucleic acid, or RNA, typically ferries protein-building instructions across a cell. Scientists exploring how brain cells form have found evidence that RNA does a lot more, however.

They've discovered a new kind of RNA that can transform unspecialized rodent brain cells into full-fledged neurons. By binding to a single protein, the RNA turns on dozens of neuron-specific genes, researchers report in the March 19 Cell.

"It's interesting that a single, small RNA can act as a switch on a protein that regulates a variety of genes," says study coauthor Fred H. Gage of the Salk Institute in La Jolla, Calif.

This article is available only to subscribing members. Join the Society today or Log in.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content