A new high-throughput method has been developed by researchers to identify how ribonucleic acid (RNA) molecules come together in an unbiased and large-scale manner inside cells. A new high-throughput method has been developed by researchers to identified how ribonucleic acid (RNA) molecules come together in an unbiased and large-scale manner inside cells.
The newly-developed technique called Sequencing of Psoralen Linked And Selected Hybrids (SPLASH) was used to describe the RNA network in human and yeast cells, its dynamics, and how the structural organization impacts translation and decay processes in the cell.
‘The technique called SPLASH could pave the way for the development of new antimicrobials, antivirals or vaccines against infectious diseases such as dengue and Zika.’
The development was jointly led by Drs Wan Yue and Niranjan Nagarajan from A STAR's Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS) and was published in Molecular Cell.
RNAs play a major role in regulating gene expression in a cell. Scientists have extensively studied how mini cellular machines such as proteins and chromatin fold and interact with each other. Lesser is known about how RNA come together to interact with itself or with other RNA molecules. This prompted the researchers to come up with SPLASH to understand the RNAwe need to understand the configuration of all its components to be able to engineer and/or repair it. RNA shapes and RNA interaction networks are key to cellular function. Depending on cellular needs, these dynamic interaction networks can be remodeled. Most importantly, targeting these networks could be a means to inhibit infectious organisms."
The new technique will allow the team to study the transcriptomes of infectious organisms- including pathogenic bacteria, dengue and Zika viruses - to understand the way RNA shapes and networks in these genomes enable the infection of human cells by pathogens.
The researchers hope that the understanding of microbial pathogenicity will help develop new antimicrobials, antivirals or vaccines against these pathogens.
"It is exciting to have a first comprehensive view of the RNA interactome and to capture its dynamics. We now have the tools to understand how RNA structural organization impacts disease and pathogen biology, with the eventual goal being to leverage this understanding for new drugs and antimicrobials," added Dr Nagarajan, the paper's co-lead author and Principal Investigator of Computational & Systems Biology at the GIS.
GIS Executive Director Prof Ng Huck Hui said, "Understanding RNA interaction networks and gene regulation is an area of intense interest for the scientific community. Before the development of SPLASH, few tools allowed researchers to delve deeper into this field of research. This method now opens the field to understand the dynamics of RNA interaction networks in diverse organisms. I am hopeful that it will help the community better understand how RNAs function in vivo and as a result, reap the benefits from their newly-gained insights."