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Feb 27, 2017 10:10 AM EST

UC San Diego Bioengineers Develops New Tool To Map RNA-DNA Interaction

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University of San Diego bioengineers were able to create a new tool that can identify interactions between RNA and DNA molecules. This is the first technology of its kind.

RNA (ribonucleic acid) is a nucleic acid polymer that is made up of nucleotide monomers, as stated by Science Daily. It plays a significant role in the processes that decode genetic information from DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) into protein products.

DNA is defined by Live Science as being made up of molecules called nucleotides. It contains the instructions that an organism needs to live, develop and reproduce.

Bioengineers at UC San Diego have created a new tool named MARGI (Mapping RNA Genome Interactions). It is the first technology that is able to provide a full account of all the RNA molecules that interact with parts of DNA and the location of these interactions in a single experiment, Phys.org reported.

RNA molecules can connect to specific DNA sequences to help control the amount of proteins that these genes produce within a period of time and in a certain cell. With the new tool, scientists can know what genes produce these regulatory RNAs and can recognize new functions as well as instructions that have been encoded in the genome.

Sheng Zhong, the study's lead author, said that majority of human genome sequences has now been known but the meaning of these sequences is still unidentified. Zhong is a bioengineering professor at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering.

He noted that, in order to understand the functions of the genome better, having the entire catalog of all the RNA molecules and their interactions with DNA would be useful. The study of the UC San Diego bioengineers has been published in the February issue of the journal "Current Biology."

It was added that existing methods to study RNA-DNA interactions can only analyze one RNA molecule at a time, which could take years to glean the entire catalog. MARGI can analyze an entire set of RNA-DNA interactions in a single experiment that takes only one to two weeks.

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