Researchers from Bochum and Münster in Germany have developed a new method to determine the structures of all RNA molecules in a bacterial cell at once. In the past, this had to be done individually for each molecule. Besides their exact composition, their structure is crucial for the function of the RNAs. The team describes the new high-throughput structure mapping method, termed Lead-Seq for lead (Pb) sequencing in an article published online on May 28, 2020 in Nucleic Acids Research. The article is titled “Lead-Seq: Transcriptome-Wide Structure Probing in Vivo Using Lead (II) Ions.” Christian Twittenhoff, Vivian Brandenburg (at right in photo), Francesco Righetti, PhD, and Professor Franz Narberhaus (at left in photo), PhD, from the Chair of Microbial Biology at Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) collaborated with the Bioinformatics Group headed by Professor Axel Mosig, PhD, at RUB and the team led by Professor Petra Dersch, PhD, at the University of Münster, previously from the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research in Braunschweig. In all living cells, genetic information is stored in double-stranded DNA and transcribed into single-stranded RNA, which then serves as a blueprint for proteins. However, RNA is not only a linear copy of the genetic information, but often folds into complex structures. The combination of single-stranded and partially folded double-stranded regions is of central importance for the function and stability of RNAs. "If we want to learn something about RNAs, we must also understand their structure," says Professor Narberhaus. With lead sequencing, the authors present a method that facilitates the simultaneous analysis of all RNA structures in a bacterial cell.
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