WARF: P140268US02

Poly(UG) Polymerase: A Useful New RNA Tool


Marvin Wickens, Melanie Preston

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) is seeking commercial partners interested in developing a recently discovered enzyme that adds a repeating UG nucleotide ‘tail’ to RNA.
OVERVIEWEnzymes called ribonucleotidyl transferases (NTases) add nucleotides to the ends of RNAs. At present only a few such enzymes are known, such as poly(A) polymerases and poly(U) polymerases. The selection is quite small given the vast number of possible nucleotide combinations.

These enzymes are useful research tools in molecular biology and the search continues for new ones.
THE INVENTIONUW–Madison researchers have identified a poly(UG) polymerase in a roundworm called Caenorhabditis elegans. The newly discovered enzyme adds repeating UG sequences to the ends of RNA. This activity could be useful as a research tool in vitro, e.g., providing a new way to synthesize cDNA of RNAs of unknown sequence.

The gene in C. elegans that encodes the enzyme is called RDE-3. Although its sequence was already known, its polymerase activity was not.
  • In vitro research tool
  • Kit for adding a poly(UG) tail to an RNA substrate
  • Priming cDNA synthesis of RNAs of unknown sequence, using a DNA primer by ‘self-priming’
  • Opens up exciting new uses for this enzyme
  • UG tails could provide greater specificity than currently possible.
STAGE OF DEVELOPMENTThe researchers have definitively shown using two in vivo assays in yeast and in frog eggs that the new enzyme has UG-adding activity.
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Contact Information
For current licensing status, please contact Jennifer Gottwald at or 608-960-9854.
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