Cancer and RNA
Country: United States
Date: July 2005
I am learning things in a lab where the people do
experiments related to cancer. They use cancer cells and they
grow these cells.
During this growing process, the researchers looked at the
quality of RNA.
I want to know why
they use RNA and not DNA? Isn't RNA a copy of DNA? I asked the researchers,
but I was told me to figure it out by myself. I tried to look for an
answer but I didn't found anything?
Why is RNA better than DNA in studying cancer's process? What are the
advantages of RNA in this research?
The RNA in a cell reveals what genes (DNA) are active in that cell. Not all
the DNA in a cell is transcribed into mRNA, only the genes required for a
particular cell type are active in a cell including cancer cells.
Ron Baker, Ph.D
I'll give you a hint-the nucleus contains ALL the DNA, the same as every
other cell in the body. When a cell wants to make a protein, it copies only
the genes it needs for that cell at that moment. The DNA doesn't tell you
anything about that cell's activities at that moment.
Now think about why they would want to study the RNA in cancer cells.
DNA is pretty much identical in all the cells of an organism, encoding all
the possible functions that any cell might have, whether or not those
particular functions are being used. In contrast, the RNA are the "working
copies" of what is in the DNA, indicating functions that are currently or
recently turned "on". Thus you might see how it is more critical to
identify what functions are operating, to see which ones may have gone
astray in a cancerous cell. Rather than search the entire DNA sequence,
you can search just the operating parts coded in the RNA.
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Update: June 2012