The reasons for these molecular voyages have remained mysterious, but in recent years evidence has accrued that this extracellular RNA may have a different job, at least in some organisms.
RNA, best known to basic biology students for its role in translating genes into proteins, has turned out to be a surprisingly versatile and cosmopolitan molecule. Plants, roundworms, flatworms and insects use RNA to carry signals through their tissues, and perhaps further. Inspired by laboratory studies hinting that RNA may play a role in interactions between organisms, and even different species, Eric Miska, a molecular geneticist at the University of Cambridge, coined the term “social RNA” to describe the molecule’s apparent role in communication both inside and outside organisms.
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