An RNA molecule called microRNA-101 inhibits the production and function of a protein that is found at high levels in many types of aggressive tumour.
Pinning this down first required Arul Chinnaiyan of the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor and his co-workers to predict the various microRNA molecules with the right shape to target the protein, EZH2. Four computer programs listed 29 possibilities in total, but only two of these appeared in all four readouts. Of these, only miRNA-101 reduced the amount of EZH2 when precursors of this RNA were added to cancer cells.
The researchers also found that one or both of two genes that encode miRNA-101 had been lost in two-thirds of spreading prostate cancers, unleashing overexpression of EZH2.