David Baltimore talks with
ScienceWatch.com and answers a few questions about
this month's Fast Breaking Paper in the field of
Article Title: MicroRNA-155 is induced during the
macrophage inflammatory response
Authors: O'Connell, RM;Taganov, KD;Boldin, MP;Cheng,
Journal: PROC NAT ACAD SCI USA
Year: JAN 30 2007
* CALTECH, Dept Biol, 330 Braun,1200 E Calif Blvd,
Pasadena, CA 91125 USA.
* CALTECH, Dept Biol, Pasadena, CA 91125 USA.
* Univ Calif Los Angeles, Dept Microbiol, Los Angeles, CA
(addresses have been truncated)
Why do you think your paper is highly
Because mir-155 is involved in so many processes, including cancer, and the
knowledge that it is induced in macrophages during the inflammatory
response adds an important piece to our understanding. It is a new
Would you summarize the significance of your paper
in layman's terms?
are an important class of molecules
only recently uncovered."
MicroRNAs are an important class of molecules only recently uncovered. Most
previous work had associated these small RNAs with regulation during
embryonic development. The understanding that they play a role in
inflammation extends their importance as biological regulators and greatly
increases their interest.
How did you become involved in this research, and
were there any problems along the way?
We have been studying the microRNA role in inflammation for some time.
There are always problems in research but in this case the work went
Where do you see your research leading in the
We have just published an extension of this work in The Journal of
Experimental Medicine on February 25th, 2008: "Sustained
expression of microRNA-155 in hematopoietic
stem cells causes a myeloproliferative disorder."
Do you foresee any social or political
implications for your research?
We hope that it will contribute to new avenues of attack on chronic
inflammation and autoimmunity.
Robert Andrews Millikan Professor of Biology
California Institute of Technology
Pasadena, CA, USA