A team of scientists from the University of California identified a gene that may play role in preventing heart disease. The gene, called MeXis, acts within key cells inside clogged arteries to help remove redundant cholesterol from blood cells.
The gene MeXis was considered as “unhelpful” gene because it was presumed that it had no function as it didn’t make any protein. Nevertheless, the recent studies suggested that the genes of this type can perform important biological functions without making proteins. Instead, they are producing a special class of molecules, long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs).
Senior author of the study Dr. Peter Tontonoz, the Frances and Albert Piansky Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, says: “What this study tells us is that lncRNAs are important for the inner workings of cells involved in the development of heart disease. Considering many genes like MeXis have completely unknown functions, our study suggests that further exploring how other long non-coding RNAs act will lead to exciting insights into both normal physiology and disease.”