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November 3, 2011

RNA Research Reveals New Responsibilities

An artist's rendering of an RNA molecule. Scientists have discovered that ribonucleic acid, or RNA, has a broad range of cellular functions. So-called "small RNAs" constitute a potent set of molecules that can regulate cellular processes including development, pathogen defense and stress response. An RNA molecule that catalyzes chemical reactions has a structure similar to proteins that perform like reactions.

The range of RNA functions is much broader than as mere middle men in protein production. Indeed, RNA also mediates chemical reactions and regulates cellular processes. This image accompanied NSF press release, "RNA Research Reveals New Responsibilities."

Credit: Nicolle Rager Fuller, National Science Foundation

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