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Study Sheds Light on Dicer's Role in microRNA Biogenesis

New details about how the Dicer enzyme functions to help in the creation of microRNAs are reported in Nature this week. Dicer is well-known for its role in cleaving the double-stranded RNA to create small regulatory RNAs, including miRNAs and short interfering RNAs (siRNAs), but how this processing occurs in humans is poorly understood because structures of human Dicer (Dicer1) in a catalytic state are lacking. Seoul National University researchers have now determined the cryo-electron microscopy structure of Dicer1 bound to precursor miRNA (pre-miRNA) in its cleaving state. The structure reveals the dynamic spatial rearrangements of several domains of Dicer1 during the transition to a catalytic state, explaining how Dicer1 selects its substrates with specificity. The work, the scientists write, will help in the design of siRNAs and other RNAs for RNA interference and offers a molecular framework for understanding Dicer-related diseases in humans.

The Scan

ChatGPT Does As Well As Humans Answering Genetics Questions, Study Finds

Researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics had ChatGPT answer genetics-related questions, finding it was about 68 percent accurate, but sometimes gave different answers to the same question.

Sequencing Analysis Examines Gene Regulatory Networks of Honeybee Soldier, Forager Brains

Researchers in Nature Ecology & Evolution find gene regulatory network differences between soldiers and foragers, suggesting bees can take on either role.

Analysis of Ashkenazi Jewish Cohort Uncovers New Genetic Loci Linked to Alzheimer's Disease

The study in Alzheimer's & Dementia highlighted known genes, but also novel ones with biological ties to Alzheimer's disease.

Tara Pacific Expedition Project Team Finds High Diversity Within Coral Reef Microbiome

In papers appearing in Nature Communications and elsewhere, the team reports on findings from the two-year excursion examining coral reefs.