Long intergenic noncoding RNAs (lincRNAs) play a crucial role in many biological processes. The rat is an important model organism in biomedical research. Recent studies have detected rat lincRNA genes from several samples. However, identification of rat lincRNAs using large-scale RNA-seq datasets remains unreported. Herein, using more than 100 billion RNA-seq reads from 59 publications together with RefSeq and UniGene annotated RNAs, Xi’an University of Technology researchers report 39,154 lincRNA transcripts encoded by 19,162 lincRNA genes in the rat. They reveal sequence and expression similarities in lincRNAs of rat, mouse and human. DNA methylation level of lincRNAs is higher than that of protein-coding genes across the transcription start sites (TSSs). And, three lincRNA genes overlap with differential methylation regions (DMRs) which associate with spontaneously hypertensive disease. In addition, there are similar binding trends for three transcription factors (HNF4A, CEBPA and FOXA1) between lincRNA genes and protein-coding genes, indicating that they harbour similar transcription regulatory mechanisms. To date, this is the most comprehensive assessment of lincRNAs in the rat genome. The researchers provide valuable data that will advance lincRNA research using rat as a model.
Flowchart describing the identification of lincRNAs. Processing of (a) RNA-seq datasets, (b) RefSeq datasets, (c) UniGene datasets, and (d) merging lincRNAs derived from RNA-seq, RefSeq and UniGene.