News from CRG
An analysis of 13,000 tumours highlights two previously overlooked genes as potential new therapeutic targets for cancer treatment. Researchers also identify potential new therapeutic targets for male infertility. Both findings are the result of the most comprehensive evolutionary analysis of RNA modification proteins to date.
RNA is a fundamental molecule of life involved in coding, decoding, regulating and expressing the genes stored in DNA. Cells often modify RNA's constituent code for a specific purpose, such as tagging the molecule for degradation, or marking it so that the immune system recognises it and doesn't destroy it.
Modifying an RNA molecule can profoundly affect the fate of a living organism, including its development, sex or circadian rhythm. Up to one hundred different human diseases are linked to defects in the RNA modification process. RNA modification proteins (RMPs) play a key role in this process, adding or removing chemical groups to the sequence, and altering the original code copied from DNA. Recent technological advances have made it possible to study how and where RNA is edited and modified, leading to the nascent field of 'epitranscriptomics'.
In this study, researchers at the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) carried out the most comprehensive evolutionary analysis of human RMPs to date, studying how they behave across 32 tissues, 10 species and 13,358 paired tumour-normal human samples. They found that RMP expression hugely varies across different types of tissues, cancer types and cancer stages.
Begik, O., Lucas, M.C., Liu, H. et al. Integrative analyses of the RNA modification machinery reveal tissue- and cancer-specific signatures. Genome Biol 21, 97 (2020). DOI: 10.1186/s13059-020-02009-z