Why Should I Care About RNA?

I keep bumping into talks, articles and stuff related to the Bioinformatics of RNAs. It certainly looks appealing. I am not sure though what the fuss is about or whether it is as exciting as the DNA field. The promise of the Next Gen Sequencing and its impact in Science, Policy and Society are expected to be significant in the near future. Why should I care about RNAs though?

Here is a list of questions that I throw into the wild hoping to attract the attention of any experts in the field.

  1. Does any recent RNA breakthrough have the same potential to transform Society as DNA research is doing?
  2. Is RNA Bioinformatics an area that is appealing because not a lot of people are working on it? Or has it been fuelled by a new technique that is revolutionising it?
  3. Is the rate of accumulation of RNA data as steep as its DNA cousin?
  4. What are RNA research trends to watch out for?

The debate is open.

Post a comment if you want to say anything.


  1. Kevin Karplus

    I’ve been in protein structure prediction for 14 years, but most of the exciting new biology has been in RNA. All the “DNA” microarray work is really measuring RNA levels (converted to cDNA to avoid the instability of RNA). Many expression studies are switching to 2nd-generation sequencing platforms, which give a bigger dynamic range than DNA microarrays. The greater depth of sequencing has revealed that there are a lot more RNA-only genes than people thought. RNA interference has become the leading gene-knockdown technique in eukaryotes, …

    In short, RNA is the hot topic in molecular biology right now, so it makes sense that bioinformaticians are looking at the data being generated from RNA-based experiments.

    RNA is likely to be major field in molecular biology for at least the next decade, and probably longer.

  2. Alex Bateman

    I was always a protein centred person, but I “discovered” the importance of RNA when I saw the first structure of the ribosome. The machine that makes all proteins turns out to be an RNA machine with a few proteins sprinkled around the edges. That was quite a shock. Now we know that eukaryotic spliceosome is also likely an RNA machine, it seems that several key parts of the central dogma are based on RNA.

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