Friday, January 16, 2009

Small silencing RNAs: an expanding universe

Ghildiyal M, Zamore PD.

University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA 01605-2324, USA.

Since the discovery in 1993 of the first small silencing RNA, a dizzying number of small RNA classes have been identified, including microRNAs (miRNAs), small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) and Piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs). These classes differ in their biogenesis, their modes of target regulation and in the biological pathways they regulate. There is a growing realization that, despite their differences, these distinct small RNA pathways are interconnected, and that small RNA pathways compete and collaborate as they regulate genes and protect the genome from external and internal threats.

Nature Reviews Genetics 10, 94 (2009). doi:10.1038/nrg2504

It's always a pleasure to read Phil Zamore's reviews. He writes very clearly and to the point, a characteristic that I think is missing from the majority of scientists nowadays. Although efforts have been made in some grad programs to teach young scientists to write, this is not often the case.
This is a bigger problem for non-native English speakers; I can't think of anything more annoying that having a paper rejected for poor language. I've taken my precautions and trained myself in scientific writing; I even took an internship at 'Science Editor', the periodical of the Council of Science Editors, so I hope that never happens to me.

Well, this is not at all the point I wanted to make by posting this paper. I posted this nice review mainly because of the great impact these riboregulators have had on the way we perceive gene expression regulation. Although there are some other great reviews on the subject (by David Bartel or Tom Tuschl, just to name two important researchers in the field) , I highlighted this one, mainly because it's one of the best that has been published since this blog is up and running. Although this review is mainly focused on siRNAs, it also mentions miRNAs and the most-recently-discovered piRNAs. It also discusses on how their pathways interact with one another. This review does a nice job classifying these small RNAs based on their biogenesis, which appears to be the best way to do this if you ask me.