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Research Team of Professor Kim TaeSoo Publishes Findings in Nucleic Acids Research, a World-renowned Academic Journal


Research Team of Professor Kim TaeSoo Publishes Findings in Nucleic Acids Research, a World-renowned Academic Journal

A research team including Professor Kim TaeSoo at the Department of Life Science under the College of Natural Sciences discovered a new expression regulation mechanism of cryptic noncoding RNA within gene bodies. The results of this study, participated in by Dr. Lee Bo Bae of the Life Science major as the first author, were published in a SCI journal, Nucleic Acids Research (IF 16.971, within the top 2.5%), on July 28 (Wed).

With the implementation of the Human Genome Project, scientists across the world believed that causes of incurable diseases that entail changes in DNA sequencing could be determined through understanding the function of all protein coding genes in the human genome. However, subsequent studies proved that transcription occurs not only in genes that encode proteins but also in DNA sequence (noncoding DNA), which does not encode proteins, leading to the conclusion that there exist a vast number of noncoding RNAs whose functions are unknown. These noncoding RNAs, which have come to receive significant attention recently, play key roles in the regulation of cell function, differentiation and death, and are known to be closely related to various diseases.

Professor Kim TaeSoo’s research team selected noncoding RNAs which were uniquely expressed in cells under continuous environmental shifts and investigated their regulation mechanism, the results of which were already published in Nature Communications in 2016. Since then, the research team has conducted a follow-up study focusing on the expression patterns of genes within cells and those of noncoding RNAs depending on environmental changes.

Gene expression is determined by “promoters,” DNA sequences to which transcription factors bind themselves. The Ewha research team carried out an experiment to substitute a certain gene’s original core promoters with those from genes that are differentially expressed. Through the experiment, the team identified that an increase in the activity of core promoters leads to a decrease in the expression of cryptic noncoding RNAs from internal cryptic promoters, as shown in the figure. Based on this, the research team newly found that promoter strength and transcription elongation factors play important roles in the regulation of noncoding RNAs expressed within gene bodies.

Professor Kim TaeSoo expressed his high expectations, remarking “This study demonstrated for the first time that gene expression and noncoding RNA expression are strongly correlated. This will lead to the proposal of a new research direction on the regulation of noncoding RNA expression, which serves a key function within cells.” He added, “In addition, research on the expression regulation of cancer cell-specific noncoding RNAs will make it possible to understand the mechanism of carcinogenesis induced by noncoding RNAs, with the aim to develop a new biomarker and to suggest treatment targets.”