Changes to RNA may impact growth and function of insulin-producing cells

The Kulkarni lab focuses on understanding how beta cells can remain healthy and multiply, hoping to find ways to generate more of the cells to counter both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Following up on one of their investigations about how the cells regenerate, the scientists wondered whether a form of genetic regulation known as “RNA methylation” might prove important.

In RNA methylation, messenger RNA is chemically modified by the addition of a methyl group, which changes its behavior and thus the instructions it delivers for producing proteins, Kulkarni explains.

Although this process was discovered decades ago, RNA methylation has only been studied extensively in recent years, with the arrival of extremely sensitive RNA sequencing technologies, he says.

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