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Dartmouth Medical School geneticists discover new role for antisense RNA

ises from the frequency gene, known to encode factors important for the operation of the circadian clock in Neurospora," says Dunlap. "The sense transcript encodes proteins that are involved in the feedback loop that is the oscillator in the clock. The antisense transcript runs in the opposite direction, and apparently does not encode a protein, so its actual role is unknown at present. It may simply bock translation, or it may destabilize the sense message. Antisense transcripts are already known, but usually they are quite small, on the order of 20 to 25 bases. This one is quite large, nearly 5,000 bases."

In normal bread mold strains living in the dark, levels of antisense frequency transcripts cycle with respect to the amount of sense frequency transcripts, and they are inducible by light, the researchers determined. However, in strains mutated to abolish induction of antisense frequency RNA by light, the internal clock time was delayed, and resetting of the clock by light was altered.

If similar environmental factors regulate both sense and antisense transcripts, the authors suggest, a role for antisense frequency RNA might be to confer the ability to keep accurate time by limiting the clock response to extremes in the environment. Likewise other antisense RNAs might be involved in maintaining internal stability in other organisms.


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Contact: DMS Communications
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Dartmouth Medical School
27-Feb-2003


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