DNA Found Outside of Genes Plays Role in Inherited Disease Risk

A new Diabetes Center study highlights the potential importance of the vast majority of human DNA that lies outside of genes within the cell. Faculty member Michael McManus, PhD, graduate student Ian Vaughn, and postdoctoral fellow Matthew Hangauer, PhD, identified thousands of previously unknown, unique RNA sequences by looking at which regions of the genome are converted into RNA. RNA is a molecule that increasingly is being found to play myriad important roles within cells.

The researchers also determined that this RNA-making DNA is more likely than other non-gene DNA regions to be associated with inherited disease risks. This study may reveal fundamental new insights into diseases like diabetes and pave the way towards developing novel therapeutics that target disease RNAs.
Recently published in PLOS Genetics, this is one of the most comprehensive reviews of the human genome to analyze which stretches of DNA outside of genes make RNA and which do not.