Science Explained: RNA Interference

Posted on November 13, 2009  Comments (1)

Explained: RNA interference

Every high school biology student learns the basics of how genes are expressed: DNA, the cell’s master information keeper, is copied into messenger RNA, which carries protein-building instructions to the ribosome, the part of the cell where proteins are assembled.

But it turns out the picture is far more complicated than that. In recent years, biologists have discovered a myriad of other molecules that fine-tune this process, including several types of RNA (ribonucleic acid). Through a naturally occurring phenomenon known as RNA interference, short strands of RNA can selectively intercept and destroy messenger RNA before it delivers its instructions.

Double-stranded RNA molecules called siRNA (short interfering RNA) bind to complementary messenger RNA, then enlist the help of proteins, the RNA-induced silencing complex. Those proteins cleave the chemical bonds holding messenger RNA together and prevent it from delivering its protein-building instructions.

This article from MIT is one, of many, showing MIT’s commitment to science education of the public. Good job, MIT.

Related: Antigen Shift in Influenza VirusesPosts explaining scientific principles and conceptsDNA Passed to Descendants Changed by Your LifeWhy Does Hair Turn Grey as We Age?Amazing Science: Retroviruses

One Response to “Science Explained: RNA Interference”

  1. MIT Scientists Find New Drug That Could Cure Nearly Any Viral Infection » Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog
    August 17th, 2011 @ 7:51 am

    The drug works by targeting a type of RNA produced only in cells that have been infected by viruses…

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