New Twist in microRNA biology

MIT scientists have found a new way that DNA can carry out its work that is about as surprising as discovering that a mold used to cast a metal tool can also serve as a tool itself, with two complementary shapes each showing distinct functional roles.

Professor Manolis Kellis and postdoctoral research fellow Alexander Stark report in the Jan. 1 issue of the journal Genes & Development that in certain DNA sequences, both strands of a DNA segment can perform useful functions, each encoding a distinct molecule that helps control cell functions.

There is a full press report here.

Comments

  1. #1 rpenner
    January 11, 2008

    about as surprising as discovering that a mold used to cast a metal tool can also serve as a tool itself

    Not at all suprising if either:

    1. You have a complete neophyte designer who thinks that in addition to having a need for a tool cast, he wants to get at the same time a file to sharpen it and doesn’t care how it fits in the hand. The centuries of grief the abandonment of K.I.S.S. engineering principles will be directly attributable to such a unqualified designer. Or…
    2. Things like the mold are developed piecewise by unintellegent agents from ancestor blobs and templates for blobs that serve a useful function are communicated to other agents for templates to continue the common descent with undirected changes accumulating over time. In such a model, if the blob has two functions, that makes it likely to outcompete a “designed” alternative which neglects one function for only modest gains for the other function.
  2. #2 OneRandomScientist
    January 11, 2008

    So microRNA genes can overlap on different strands? That’s pretty cool, but I don’t think quite “never even been hypothesized” level…