Molecular Biology

Noncoding mRNAs

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Science  30 Aug 2013:
Vol. 341, Issue 6149, pp. 938
DOI: 10.1126/science.341.6149.938-c

Chromatin insulators are protein complexes that act to insulate portions of the genome from the powerful and potentially disruptive effects of transcriptional enhancers, which can activate the expression of genes across vast stretches of DNA. This barrier function of insulators allows them to demarcate transcriptional domains in chromatin. The Drosophila gypsy insulator complex consists of three core proteins: suppressor of Hairy wing [Su(Hw)], modifier of mdg4 [Mod(mdg4)], and centrosomal protein 190 (CP190). RNA has also been implicated in gypsy insulator function, and Matzat et al. find that nine messenger RNAs (mRNAs) are specifically associated with the gypsy complex. Curiously, two of these interacting mRNAs code for the Su(Hw) and CP190 proteins themselves, a phenomenon not seen with other chromatin-associated proteins and their mRNAs. The expression of untranslatable versions of the Su(Hw) and CP190 mRNAs in larvae, which were already expressing wild-type Su(Hw) and CP190 mRNAs, resulted in the formation of supernumerary insulator bodies in the nucleus. They also increased the gypsy insulator enhancer-blocking activity in two marker genes that affect wing notching and eye color in adult flies. The insulator-targeted mRNAs may bind to the gypsy core complex through adaptor proteins.

EMBO Rep. 14, 10.1038/embor.2013.118 (2013).

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