Scientists have mostly ignored mRNA, the molecule that ferries information from DNA to the cellular machines that make proteins, because these DNA transcripts are ephemeral and soon destroyed. But mRNA can be just as important as DNA scientists at Washington University in St. Louis say. They found that oxidized messenger RNA jams the cellular machines that make protein. The failure to clear the jams and chew up bad messengers is associated with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
Yehuda Ben-Shahar and his team at Washington University in St. Louis have discovered that some mRNAs have a side job unrelated to making the protein they encode. They act as regulatory molecules as well, preventing other genes from making protein by marking their mRNA molecules for destruction.