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Non-Coding but Not Non-Functional http://scim.ag/ZnOG1I Recently, techniques including high-throughput sequencing revealed thousands of circular RNAs in a range of species from single-celled microorganisms to humans. Indeed, in human fibroblast cells, circular RNA is far more abundant than linear RNAs, likely because circular RNAs can’t be touched by typical RNA decay machineries that act on the ends that circular RNAs lack. One type of circular RNA found predominantly in human brains (as well as those of mice) contains more than 70 binding sites for a particular microRNA, miR-7. This particular microRNA helps repress gene expression. By binding to miR-7, the circular RNA prevents miR-7 from binding to RNAs that encode proteins. Because all circular RNAs generally have many microRNA binding sites, the authors of this article suggest that other types of circular RNAs may function similarly. Through this regulatory function, circular RNAs join a growing class of naturally occurring microRNA “sponges,” though they are much more potent because they are expressed in greater amounts and contain many more binding sites. The authors suggest that binding sites of circular RNA for microRNAs, linear RNAs, and RNA-binding proteins may have been evolutionarily conserved to stabilize those RNA molecules that encode proteins. The discovery of such a large class of RNAs in a wide range of species also raises the question of what other RNAs might have been missed. [Image: K. Sutliff/Science]



Bronchial thermoplasty is a treatment for severe asthma approved by the FDA in 2010 involving the delivery of controlled, therapeutic radiofrequency energy to the airway wall, thus heating the tissue and reducing the amount of smooth muscle present in the airway wall.

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