Noncoding RNA Helps Cells Recover from DNA Damage

Scientists discover transcripts from the same gene that can express both proteins and noncoding RNA.

Diana Kwon
Diana Kwon
Apr 30, 2017

TWO-FACED: mRNA (left, red) from the ASCC3 gene is mostly in the cytoplasm, while ASCC3’s noncoding RNA (right, red) is in the cell nucleus (blue). LAURA WILLIAMSON AND BRADLEY SPENCER-DENE

The paper
L. Williamson et al., “UV irradiation induces a non-coding RNA that functionally opposes the protein encoded by the same gene,” Cell, doi:10.1016/j.cell.2017.01.019, 2017.

Damaged DNA
When its DNA is damaged, a cell activates genes to repair the lesion and slows down the transcription of many others. According to Jesper Svejstrup of the Francis Crick Institute, researchers have known about this response for a few decades. However, “that was the extent of what we knew,” he says.

Two for one
Last year, Svejstrup and colleagues identified factors associated with transcription-related changes after UV-induced DNA damage, including the transcription of ASCC3, which encodes a protein involved in regulating gene expression (Cell Rep, 15:1597-1610, 2016). In...