• John Rinn

Why is my mRNA in the nucleus?

News article: The unexpected complexities of TERT, a key cancer driver


This is a great example of why RNA-FISH is such a key first approach to understanding any gene! TERT is one of the most famous examples of the central dogma (DNA-> RNA -> PROTEIN): Encoded in our DNA in the cell nucleus, transcribed into mRNA in the cell nucleus and then transported to the cytoplasm to be translated into protein. The final protein product is one of the most important genes in the human genome to keep cells from aging and getting cancer. So it's kinda a big deal gene.

In this study two fantastic postdocs organically derived a collaboration in an environment I like to call "scholars without borders". Dr. Rowland and Dumbovic performed RNA imaging and found TERT is mostly in the nucleus! To our surprise this finding held across stem cell and cancer lines alike. So how does TERT get translated if most of it resided in the cell nucleus? This is a question for Dr. Dumbovic's future research -- stay tuned !

This is project was inspired by having collaborative research space with laboratories of differing expertise. In fact, our laboratory has no dedicated space and is integrated into the Roy Parker (Biochemistry), Tom Cech (Biochemistry) and Robin Dowell (Computer Science) labs. Our approach allows innovation through integration across disciplines and departments. It also confers " immersion" in space and time of other laboratory culture. In a sense we owe this to the one of a kind environment of the University of Colorado Boulder and the BioFrontiers Institute supporting this collaborative-cross disciplinary research.