Circular RNAs may trigger lupus
Lingling Chen, a biochemist from the Shanghai Institute of Biochemistry, and her team, discovered that a
lack of circular RNA may be the reason for unusual immune attacks seen in those with lupus. Circular
RNAs are produced in low levels; the initial copy of mRNA produced contains both intron and exons,
introns removed sometimes get spliced together forming circular rings of RNA. Chen’s team recognized
and focused on the single stranded RNA circles that formed regions of double stranded stretches. These
special RNA molecules block activity of the protein, PKR, which triggers innate immunity. When a virus
is present, the circRNA is cut up, when circRNA is absent, PKR is free to begin immune responses.
People suffering from lupus already have low levels of circRNA, allowing PKR activity is high.
Chen’s team unlocked interesting information connecting circRNA, the immune system, lupus. It is
interesting to see where the research and treatment of lupus will go. Maybe circRNA therapy will be a