• A
  • A
  • A
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
Regular version of the site

Research Reveals RNA's Role in Cancer Progression

Research Reveals RNA's Role in Cancer Progression

© iStock

An international group of scientists and medical specialists, including HSE researchers, examined the role played by microRNA (miRNA) and long non-coding RNAs on the progression of ovarian cancer. Having analysed more than a hundred tumour samples, they found that miRNA can prevent cell mutation while long non-coding RNAs have the opposite effect of enabling such mutations. These findings can help design new drugs which act by regulating miRNA concentrations. The study was published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences.

DNA and RNA play essential roles in our bodies. DNA stores and transmits genetic information from one generation to the next and contains the instructions needed for cells to develop.  RNA makes copies of DNA and is involved in the synthesis of specialised RNA or essential proteins. An RNA type called non-coding RNAs are never translated into proteins but participate in molecular processes and perform transport and regulatory functions. 

Depending on the structure and sequence of nucleotides, regulatory RNAs can either prevent or stimulate the growth of malignant neoplasms such as ovarian carcinoma, one of the most aggressive gynaecological cancers with the highest case-fatality rate.

A team including researchers of the HSE International Laboratory of Bioinformatics examined the role of RNA in the development of ovarian carcinoma. The scientists studied tissue samples from patients at different stages of the disease, with and without metastases: a set of 102 tumour samples and a control set of 102 histologically normal ovarian tissues of the same patients.

All tissues and organs in the human body are lined with epithelial cells. Normally, these cells are tightly connected to each other and attached to the basal lamina. But once these cells become tumorigenic, they change their structure and function. This change is called epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), a process by which an external impact causes epithelial cells to lose their properties and to become mesenchymal cells. 

Cell membranes get thinner, and cells become elongated in shape. They lose cell-cell adhesion, detach from the basal lamina, become mobile, and pass into the bloodstream. These detached tumour cells are then carried by the blood or lymph to other organs where they form metastases causing cancer to progress.

The researchers determined the effect of different RNA molecules on EMT. Oncosupressor MiRNAs tend to slow down cancer progression by attaching to messenger RNA which synthesises 'dangerous' proteins and block their action, thus protecting epithelial cells from EMT. 

In contrast, long non-coding RNAs may intercept miRNA and interfere with their action, so that EMT continues, the body's defences are impaired, and the risk of metastases increases.

The study also revealed that non-coding DNA methylation can block the synthesis of protective miRNA altogether. DNA methylation is an important mechanism for gene suppression: a small molecule known as a methyl group attaches to a gene, causing it to be turned off, so that no protective RNA can be produced.

According to the researchers, DNA methylation can be either passed down the maternal line or developed in a random way during one's lifetime. So far, this process has been the subject of fundamental studies. Scientists cannot yet influence DNA methyl groups, which are highly stable.

Olga Brovkina, co-author of the paper and research fellow at the HSE International Laboratory of Bioinformatics

‘MiRNA is a popular research topic today. Coding RNAs are well researched, but few studies focus on their regulation, and there is a lot of debate about it in the scientific community. We have examined in detail the regulatory elements that influence the epithelial-mesenchymal transition and verified our results multiple times. I hope that our findings can help design a new type of pharmaceutical which can regulate miRNA concentrations in patients.'

See also:

'We Wanted to Create an Opportunity for Intercampus Teams to Engage in Promising Studies'

HSE University has announced the winners of the Project Competition in Basic Science Research for Intercampus Departments. The competition, which the university is organising for the first time, will provide funding to 10 research teams working on five topics. Four of the winning projects will be implemented by new research departments formed as a result of the competition.

‘We Managed to Bring Together Specialists in AI, Pure Mathematics, and Neurobiology’

In early September, the HSE University Faculty of Computer Science hosted the international conference Computer Methods of Cognitome Analysis. The event was organised by the International Laboratory of Algebraic Topology and Its Applications at the faculty.

HSE University Hosts Third Summer School on Machine Learning in Bioinformatics

Between August 23rd and 25th, the HSE Faculty of Computer Science held its annual summer school on machine learning in bioinformatics. After two years of being held online, the school returned to an offline format for this year. Over three days, more than 120 participants attended lectures and seminars by leading experts in the field from institutions such as HSE University, Skoltech, AIRI, MSU, MIPT, Genotek, and Sber Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.

Russian Researchers Propose New Approach to Studying Facial Emotion Recognition

Researchers of the HSE University and the Southern Federal University (SFedU) have tested a new method for studying the perception of facial emotional expressions. They suggest that asking subjects to recognise emotional expressions from dynamic video clips rather than static photographs can improve the accuracy of findings, eg in psychiatric and neurological studies. The paper is published in Applied Sciences.

Academics Started Working Even More During the Pandemic

Academics’ work week became even longer during the pandemic. This is true of researchers from different countries, independently of their gender and specialisation, an international research team with HSE University participation found. Their working time during the pandemic was 51 hours compared to the usual 40. The increased number of working hours per week seems to have become part of the new academic norm. The results of the study were published in the Plos One journal.

HSE Researchers Develop New Method for Analysing Genetic Admixture of Populations

Researchers of the HSE International Laboratory of Statistical and Computational Genomics together with their international colleagues have proposed a new statistical method for analysing population admixture that makes it possible to determine the time and number of migration waves more accurately. The history of Colombians and Mexicans (descendants of Native Americans, Spaniards and Africans) features two episodes of admixture that occurred about 350 and 200 years ago for Mexicans and 400 and 100 years ago for Colombians. The results were published in the Plos Genetics journal.

Scholars from Moscow and Vladivostok Join Efforts to Study Institutes and Preferences in Economic Behaviour

Applications from HSE departments for the ‘Mirror Laboratories’ open project competition are open until May 20. One of the ‘mirror laboratories’ successfully operating today was created as a result of a similar competition in 2020 by economists from HSE University and Far Eastern Federal University (FEFU) to study institutes and preferences in economic behaviour. Alexis Belianin, Head of the HSE International Laboratory for Experimental and Behavioural Economics, talked about how peers from Moscow and Vladivostok collaborate.

Stress Disorders More Prevalent among Doctors due to the Pandemic

Psychologists from HSE University have joined their peers from Ekaterinburg to look into the impact of the pandemic on the mental health of Russian doctors. They found that medical staff are suffering from stress, anxiety, and depression more often than before. The results of the study were published in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

International Laboratory of Landscape Ecology Opens at HSE University

The laboratory will be led by Robert Sandlersky, a specialist in energy and mass transfer and the study of other properties of landscapes via satellite imagery and Senior Research Fellow at the Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The HSE News Service spoke to Robert about the laboratory’s future activities.

New International Laboratory to Study Lighting Flashes and Volcanic Lightning

HSE University has launched a new International Laboratory for the Study and Assessment of Dangerous Geophysical Phenomena. Alexander Kostinskiy, Head of the Laboratory and Deputy Director of HSE MIEM, explains the laboratory’s future work, its important research and practical applications, and the role of international cooperation in the new laboratory.