Identification and function of long non-coding RNA

Long non-coding (lnc) RNAs are defined as non-protein coding RNAs distinct from housekeeping RNAs such as tRNAs, rRNAs, and snRNAs, and independent from small RNAs with specific molecular processing machinery such as micro- or piwi-RNAs. Recent studies of lncRNAs across different species have revealed a diverse population of RNA molecules of differing size and function. RNA sequencing studies suggest transcription throughout the genome, so there is a need to understand how sequence relates to functional and structural relationships amongst RNA molecules. The authors synthesis of recent studies suggests that neither size, presence of a poly-A tail, splicing, direction of transcription, nor strand specificity are of importance to lncRNA function. Rather, relative genomic position in relation to a target is fundamentally important. In this review, they describe issues of key importance in functional assessment of lncRNA and how this might apply to lncRNAs important in neurodevelopment.

  • Ernst C, Morton CC. (2013) Identification and function of long non-coding RNA. Frontiers in Neuroscience [Epub ahead of print]. [article]

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