New class of small RNAs discovered

Deep sequencing of small RNAs from C. elegans uncovers 21U-RNAs

Jeffrey M. Perkel
Dec 13, 2006
Researchers have uncovered a new class of small, non-coding RNAs in worms, according to a report in Cell. Using massively parallel sequencing technology, David Bartel, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and colleagues sequenced some 400,000 small RNAs from Caenorhabditis elegans, identifying 18 new microRNA genes and more than 5,000 RNAs (called 21U-RNAs) whose common features are a 5' uridine residue, a shared upstream motif and chromosomal location, and a length of precisely 21 nucleotides. There is "no question" of the significance of these findings, according to Phillip Sharp, Institute Professor at MIT, who is collaborating with Bartel to understand the biology of 21U-RNAs but was not involved in the current study. "We made the fundamental mistake over the last 30 years of not paying attention to non-coding RNAs," Sharp told The Scientist. "RNA interference and microRNAs tell us...