Advances in genomics over the past two decades have established that more than two thirds of the eukaryotic genome is pervasively transcribed, while just >2% codes for protein. Intriguingly, the degree of organismal complexity appears proportional to the transcribed non-coding portion of the genome.
The majority of non-coding transcripts are long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs). LncRNAs represent a class of non-protein coding transcripts longer than 200 nucleotides that have aptitude for regulating gene expression at myriad avenues from embryonic development to metastasis. Current estimates indicate that there are >58,000 lncRNAs encoded by the human genome which have emerged as important players acting via mechanisms that range from effects on chromatin organization to regulation of mRNA translation.
In an effort to further foster the in-depth study of lncRNAs, the editors of this thematic issue – Dr. Leo Kurian (Cologne), Prof. Ingrid Grummt (Heidelberg) and Dr. Argyris Papantonis (Cologne) – seek to compile an ensemble of original research papers, comprehensive reviews, and out-of-the-box perspective articles and essays.
Particular emphasis is placed on, but not limited to, the following subtopics:
- Introduction or benchmarking of computational tools for the discovery and annotation of lncRNAs
- Description of novel algorithms and molecular tools that can predict and chart structural, functional, and evolutionary properties of lncRNAs
- Functional and mechanistic characterization of lncRNAs in the context of embryonic development or in the maintenance/disruption of cellular homeostasis