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RNA defects in multiple sclerosis

Apr. 30, 2015, 2:00 PM

Profound defects exist in the integrity of structural RNA molecules in patients with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS), a new study reports. RRMS is one type of multiple sclerosis, an inflammatory disease characterized by damage to the insulating myelin on nerve cells. The disease mechanisms that produce multiple sclerosis are not fully understood.

Thomas Aune, Ph.D., and colleagues used quantitative PCR and whole genome RNA sequencing to examine defects in structural RNA surveillance in blood immune cells from subjects with RRMS and in cell lines. Structural RNAs participate in a wide range of cellular processes, including protein production. The investigators found elevated levels of mis-processed structural RNAs, genome-wide defects in mRNA splicing and deficiencies in proteins that participate in quality control of structural RNAs. Betaseron, a common therapy for RRMS but not other autoimmune diseases, restored balance to structural RNAs.

The findings, reported March 25 in Genome Biology, establish that defects in structural RNAs exist in RRMS.

This research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (AI053984, AI044924, TR000445), the National Science Foundation Research Fellowship Program and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

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