A team of scientists from Whitehead Institute and other institutions has shown for the first time how two long intergenic noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs) in brewer’s yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) contribute to a location-dependent switch for the yeast FLO11 gene to toggle between active and inactive states.

A long non-coding RNA (lncRNA) prevents programmed cell death during one of the final stages of red blood cell differentiation, according to Whitehead Institute researchers. This is the first time a lncRNA has been found to play a role in red blood cell development and the first time a lncRNA has been shown to affect programmed cell death.

A newly discovered class of molecules plays an astonishingly powerful role in biology.

Deep in your DNA, a gene has gone haywire and is driving up the production of a protein that is messing with your body. Wouldn’t it be great to sift through all your 20,000-something genes, find the offender, and swat it like a fly? Fortunately, a new technique eventually could do just that.

Once thought to serve only as a bridge between genes and protein production, RNA is quickly shedding its reputation as being all brawn and no brain. RNA’s research renaissance is due in part to the recent discovery of a new class of genes called microRNAs (miRNAs). Rather than code for proteins, miRNAs serve as regulators—genetic trump cards that turn protein-coding genes off.