Gene of the month - Braveheart

Our gene of the month sounds like a Scottish warrior - it's Braveheart
14 January 2015

Interview with 

Kat Arney


And finally it's time for our gene of the month, and this time it's Braveheart. Nothing to do with Scottish warriors, Mel Gibson or the allegedly most historically inaccurate film ever made, Braveheart is a mouse gene. But it's one with a difference. Many genes carry the instructions that tell cells to make a particular protein - these are called protein coding genes. The DNA of the gene is 'read' to make an intermediate message, called RNA, which then acts as a kind of molecular recipe that the cell's factories use to build the right protein. But now there's a growing number of genes we know about that don't make proteins. Instead, the RNA they produce, known as non-coding RNA, is useful to the cell in different ways, for example by helping to switch genes on and off. Braveheart is one of these non-coding RNAs, and is needed to help turn early embryonic cells into heart cells during the early stages of development in the womb. No kilt required.


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