This PepTalk is a NEAT1
A recent article in Drug Target Review1 features findings published in Nature Medicine2 from a team of researchers from the Universite Libre de Bruxelles, VIB (a life science research institute), and Katholieke Universiteit Leuventhat implicates NEAT1 (Nuclear Enriched Abundant Transcript 1), a ~3.2 kb novel nuclear long non-coding RNA, as a potential therapeutic target in the fight against cancer.
Since NEAT1 is non-coding, it does not translate into a protein. It does play a role in the formation of paraspeckles and it helps cancer cells in growing opportunistically. Paraspeckles are subnuclear particles found in the nuclei of cancer cells. The function of these particles has remained obscure. Although highly conserved through evolution, the non-coding RNA appears to be dispensable for normal embryonic development and adult life as mice lacking NEAT1 are viable and healthy. The expression of NEAT1 in the cell nucleus is regulated by p53. P53 (a.k.a. Tumor Protein 53 or TP53) is a tumor suppressor gene, crucial to the induction of pleiotropic and often antagonistic cellular responses. While looking for possible links to the p53 tumor suppressor pathway, the researchers discovered NEAT1.
Since healthy cells are not reliant on paraspeckles they believe there is promise in utilizing NEAT1 as a therapeutic target.
- V. White, NEAT1 identified as potential therapeutic target in the fight against cancer, Drug Target Review (online article)
- Nature Medicine 22, 861 (2016). doi:10.1038/nm.4135
- NEAT1 nuclear paraspeckle assembly transcript 1 (non-protein coding) [Homo sapiens (human)] Gene ID: 283131, updated on 8-Aug-2016
Thanks to George Schroeder, MD for alerting me to this article – and many other interesting ones!