The best studied non-coding RNAs are the microRNAs, but Dr. Ranjan Perera and his collaborators are discovering that levels of a relatively understudied group of RNAs – long, non-coding RNA (lncRNA) – are altered in human melanoma. Their study, published online May 10 by the journal Cancer Research, shows that one lncRNA called SPRY4-IT1is elevated in melanoma cells, where it promotes cellular survival and invasion.
“Non-coding RNA used to be considered cellular junk. But we and others have been asking the question – if it doesn’t code for proteins, what does it do in the cell?” said Dr. Perera, associate professor at Sanford-Burnham’s Lake Nona campus in Orlando, Fla. “We’re especially interested in determining what roles microRNAs and lncRNAs play in the genesis and development of human melanomas.”
Melanoma is one of the rarest forms of skin cancer, but it is also the most deadly.