Rodrigo Maldonado: Delving into the mysteries of RNA-chromatin interactions

Rodrigo Maldonado: Delving into the mysteries of RNA-chromatin interactions

Hundreds of researchers travel abroad with scholarships Chile system. Under this sponsorship, they manage to establish strong lines of research and, in addition, to finish his doctoral studies at prestigious universities. One of them is Rodrigo Maldonado, who currently resides in Germany doing his post-doctoral fellow. There, it has been able to develop epigenetic studies, linked with non-canonical DNA structures.

Under this context, Rodrigo, was honoured as one of the best additions of the society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology of this 2018 Chile, showing their recent findings derived from his research in the area. "The award took it me very surprisingly, but pleased", indicates.

Rodrigo, participated in the recent Congress of the society of Biochemistry, which helped him to interact with other researchers on topics such as molecular biology and structure of proteins, among other topics. "It was very positive to participate in this Conference, since we could talk about the advances, both I and my colleagues are developing in Chile and abroad. So it was a very rewarding week", says. Under this aspect, 5 years ago, he participated in another Congress of Biochemistry, however, working on a totally different from which is now immersed area which, in his opinion, is being enhanced in our country (referring to the structure of proteins).

At this time, Rodrigo works in non-canonical structures of nucleic acids, being their general theme epigenetics, and thoroughly, as the RNA is able to physically interact with chromatin in order to regulate gene expression. "Has been the last few years, that RNA has different ways to interact with chromatin, and one of these is the formation of structure of tripe-helice." Here, RNA molecules are accommodated in the major Groove of the DNA Double strand forming the triple helix, and that showed in the Congress of the society was that nucleosomes are able to stabilize this interaction between RNA and DNA. Thus, the chromatin has an active role in the stabilization of this structure, and in that sense, what we did was to study this phenomenon in vitro", ending in the creation of a method to identify the formation of such structures in human cells", explains.

In the words of the researcher, these structures were investigating some time ago, after the discovery of the structure of DNA by Watson and Crick, Gary Felsenfeld and collaborators at the time discovered that not only DNA could form structures of doble-helice, but they added another strand and they could form a triple structure. "During the years ´80, said that this could be a way of regular gene expression at the level of the genome, using RNAs that serve as antigenic therapies. "Without however, then in the ´00 and with the development of the massive sequencing, I leave a little side this idea and began the boom in the non-coding RNAs, which proved to be regulators of gene expression", emphasizes.

After this new stage, the question that the scientific community became was how these RNAs, alone, were able to regulate the expression of different genes? "One of the hypotheses, the most popular, was that these tripe-helice structures, anchored in sequences regulatory of the genome by modulating its expression. This has been proposed in various papers of high impact for different RNA non-coding. However, none of these studies has been able to give a clear and direct evidence for the formation and operation of these structures."

Within this same context, the researcher added: "in this way, we set out to determine the relationship of chromatin with the RNAs through the formation of these structures of triple helix. For this we developed a method that allows us to identify the interaction of RNAs with regions that make up these structures and which are stabilized by the nucleosomes in human cells. "This method is described in a paper which is in its last stages of review so we are hopeful in that will accept it", ends

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Journalist:Patricio Grunert Alarcón. ®

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