Gisela Storz, Ph.D.
National Institute of Health
NIH Distinguished Investigator
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
For many years, a major focus of research by my group has been the identification and characterization of small, regulatory RNAs, also denoted “noncoding” RNAs. These regulatory RNAs have been found to be integral to most regulatory networks in E. coli. Similar to eukaryotic miRNAs, many of these bacterial RNAs act by base pairing with mRNA targets. While it was initially assumed these small RNAs are encoded as independent genes between protein-coding genes, recent studies have shown that some small RNAs are derived from the 5’ end, internal region and 3’ end of mRNAs. Thus, the distinction between coding and noncoding is becoming increasingly blurred. This blurring is further reflected in the finding that several small RNAs shown to act as regulators also encode small proteins. Small proteins of less than 50 amino acids comprise another overlooked class of molecules. We have detected synthesis of many of these unannotated small proteins and have documented functions as regulators that modulate the activities and levels of larger proteins.
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