News from CEXS-UPF
In an article published in Nature Structural and Molecular Biology researchers describe the mechanism by which most human cells can avoid being "bombarded" by mobile DNA fragments. This repetitive DNA has the ability to make a copies, which get inserted into other locations in the genome.
In this study, which was led by researchers at GENYO (Granada), participated Eduardo Eyras, ICREA researcher at the Department of Experimental and Health (CEXS) UPF together with the Unit of Human Genetics of the Medical Research Council in Edinburgh (Scotland) and the University of Copenhagen (Denmark).
All the cells of our species contain a protein complex called "microprocessor", whose function is to generate small regulatory RNA molecules known as microRNAs. In this paper, the authors show that this complex also acts as a guard and defender of the integrity of the human genome. Thus, these proteins recognize DNA sequences and mobile fragments that escaped the control mechanisms preventing their replication and insertions into the genome.
UPF press release (in Catalan)
Sara R. Heras, Sara Macías, Mireya Plass, Noemí Fernández, David Cano, Eduardo Eyras, José L. García-Pérez, Javier F. Cáceres (2013), The Microprocessor controls the activity of mammalian retrotransposons, Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, doi:10.1038/nsmb.2658.