Thousands of targets

New insights into the behavior of an important RNA-binding protein, LIN28, which is involved in cancer and many other diseases could change the way medical scientists look at disease. Research carried out at the University of California San Diego studied embryonic stem cells and somatic cells and discovered that there are discrete binding sites for LIN28 in 25 percent of human proteins, amounting to thousands of proteins. “Surprisingly, we discovered that LIN28 not only binds to the non-coding microRNAs, but can also bind directly to thousands of messenger RNAs,” says team member Melissa Wilbert. The discovery offers up a new perspective on the role this protein plays in the development and progression of disease and potentially new targets for pharmaceutical intervention.