RNA is not new, and we have known for decades that sugars can decorate proteins and lipids (this is known as the field of glycobiology). Here, researchers from Stanford and Harvard have discovered that RNA can also be decorated with sugars (glycol-RNA), and that glycol-RNA is fairly abundant both in cultured cells and in animals. The researchers also determined that most of the glycol-RNA was found on the cell surface, which indicates that glycol-RNA has a role in cell-cell communication.
The discovery of any new biological macromolecule is always exciting, because it opens up a new frontier for research. What is the diversity of these molecules? How is glycol-RNA being synthesized and degraded? What molecules interact with glycol-RNA? And most importantly, what information is being conveyed and what is the role of glycol-RNA in our normal physiology and in disease?