Professor Chi Sung-wook’s Team Publishes an Article in Nature, the World’s Top Journal, with a Single Corresponding Author.
- The world’s first report on the onset mechanism of cardiac hypertrophy by oxidized microRNA and its therapy
- Successful inhibition of cardiac hypertrophy in mice through the control of genetic information
- Potential to be applied to the development of drugs for treating cardiac diseases

▲ Professor Chi Sung-wook of the Division of Life Sciences in the College of Life Sciences & Biotechnology.

Professor Chi Sung-wook of the Division of Life Sciences in the College of Life Sciences & Biotechnology has reported for the first time in the world the cause of cardiac hypertrophy and its therapy by reading the information of genes mutated by reactive oxygen species.

The results of the research, conducted independently by Professor Chi Sung-wook’s team alone, was published in Nature, one of the world best journals, on August 5 (GMT).

All living organisms have DNA and RNA, which are polymeric materials containing the genetic information that is necessary to keep alive. DNA stores the genetic information, and RNA produces, based on the stored information, proteins that are essential to the body.

RNA consists of four bases (adenine, uracil, guanine and cytosine), which are modified according to the conditions of the living organism. However, the causes and impacts of modification are still being studied.

In particular, when an abnormality occurs in the cells of our body that utilize oxygen, reactive oxygen species oxidize biomaterials. For example, guanine, one of the four bases of RNA, is modified to 8-oxoguanine (o8G).

Professor Chi Sung-wook’s team focused on the finding that microRNAs in which guanine has been modified to 8-oxoguanine are enriched in cardiac hypertrophy, a disease caused by reactive oxygen species. The research team injected into the blood vessels of mice the microRNAs in which guanine was modified to 8-oxoguanine at specific positions of the base sequence, and learned that the injection significantly increased the size of the cardiomyocytes, inducing cardiac hypertrophy and cardiomyopathy.

In addition, Professor Chi Sung-wook’s team has developed a new material that is coupled with the modified microRNA to inhibit the function, and showed its therapeutic effect to inhibit cardiac hypertrophy by injecting the material into mouse blood vessels.

Professor Chi Sung-wook’s team also found that the base sequencing of the cardiac tissues of patients with myocardial infarction shows the same oxidative modification of micro RNA. Therefore, the results of the research may be applied to the development of new drugs for the treatment of cardiac diseases.

Professor Chi Sung-wook of Korea University said, “The significance of our study is that we have discovered a universal mechanism of the gene mutation and pathogenesis in not only cardiac diseases but also various other diseases associated with reactive oxygen species, including degenerative diseases, cancers and diabetes, allowing us to understand and treat the diseases.”

▲ Generation of 8-oxoguanine formed by the modification of a base by reactive oxygen species in cardiac hypertrophy (bottom), and the pathogenic mechanism in which the gene regulation is affected by the change of the base sequence (o8G:A) (top).