Researchers at the Hebrew University and the University of Kentucky believe that a specific type of protein, which has not been studied before, substantially increases the molecular complexity in the brain and improves its function. "Such a discovery may have implications for the study of neurological diseases such as schizophrenia, epilepsy and autism"
The human brain is probably the most complex organ in the human body, most of its ways of activity are still hidden and unfathomable. Even though there is more hidden than visible, the world of science has been trying in recent years to crack more and more details about the intricacies of this fascinating machine. Now, the team of researchers led by Prof. Ruth Sperling from the Institute of Life Sciences at the Hebrew University together with Prof. Stephen Stamm from the School of Medicine in Lexington, Kentucky, proposes that a new type of proteins, translated from molecules RNA circular, is the one that substantially increases the molecular complexity in the human brain and even improves its function in relation to other organisms with a similar number of genes. Recently, the research proposal won a joint grant in the amount of about one million dollars from the American National Science Foundation (NSF) and the United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF).
RNA It is the mediator in the transformation of instructions encoded inDNA to proteins in our cells. As part of the process, parts of it detach and join others to form a new series of molecules RNA - which fundamentally changes their composition. Sometimes, these parts are formed in circles and form RNA circular. Now, for the first time in the world, The team of researchers will focus onNew biological aspects of the moleculesRNA the circularity, in order to reveal Why do humans have a stronger and more complex brain than other organisms with a similar number of genes. Through the laboratory of Prof. Sperling, a world-renowned processing expert RNA, researchers are trying to understand how it was formed RNA circular by the splicing machines in the cells - and even analyze when it occurs and how it is regulated in the brain.
Create RNA circular, which exist mainly in the brain, is promoted by genomic elements specific to humans and other primates, called Alu. The human genome consists of about 11% elements Alu And their expansion in primates correlates with brain complexity. In other words, the hypothesis is that the new proteins, translated from those RNA Specific circulars, substantially increase molecular complexity, which improves brain functions. "the mother RNA Circulars code for proteins? Do these proteins function? Can they be found in the brain? This is what we analyze. They have never looked at it," Prof. Stam shares.
According to Prof. Sperling, "If it is indeed found that we have new proteins, this opens up a completely new research field with essential functions for the human brain." Such a discovery may have wide implications, for example, on the detection of genetic materials correlated with schizophrenia, epilepsy, autism or neurological disease. As part of the three-year project, starting this summer, an annual international summer course will be held at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, for two weeks, focused on the biology of RNA Led by Prof. Stam and Prof. Sperling, which include a laboratory and lectures.
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