Non-coding RNA may cause cancer, find NCCS scientists

Namrata Devikar
Wednesday, 17 October 2018

The teams pursued the non-conventional idea that RNAs that are transcribed from DNA, but are not subsequently converted to proteins, that is, non-coding RNAs, may hold clues to de-regulating cell growth balance, leading to abnormal cell growth. The team recently published this paper in an international journal. 

Pune: A group of scientists from National Centre for Cell Science (NCCS) in Pune after 13 years of research have challenged the long-held belief that oncoproteins are mainly responsible for the development of cancer. The teams pursued the non-conventional idea that RNAs that are transcribed from DNA, but are not subsequently converted to proteins, that is, non-coding RNAs, may hold clues to de-regulating cell growth balance, leading to abnormal cell growth. The team recently published this paper in an international journal. 

Anjali Shiras, a senior scientist at NCCS said cell biologists globally are studying why the cancer cells are developing. “Earlier it was seen that genes were mutated and turned into oncogenes. Oncogenes are responsible for cancer. Most research so far was in this direction. When we started our research we thought on similar lines,” said Shiras. 

She said the system they used were mouse system where mice were used for trials. “Oncogene are proteins and our results showed that it is not necessary all cancer causing genes are proteins. We realized that there are some RNA which do not turn into a protein which are called a non-coding RNA. This non-coding RNS can also be responsible for cancer,” said Shiras. 

Shiras added that during the period of research, it was not established that non-coding RNA or RNA can be cancer causing. “We discovered a non-coding RNA called Ginir. We then started our research in the direction to find out how this Ginir can cause cancer,” explained Shiras. 

She said the team at NCCS has discovered the mechanism for Ginir.  “This RNA reacts with some specific protein and if that interaction is not proper it can cause cancer fast,”said Shiras.

“This protein, as per our research is CEP112. Non-coding RNA and CEP112 interaction is not proper then the cells develop fast and tumour is created. This discovery was published in a premier international journal, PLoS Biology in October 2018,” added Shiras. She said further research can help understand how diagnosis and treatment for cancer is done.

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