The majority of the human genome is transcribed but not translated, giving rise to noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs), including long ncRNAs (lncRNAs, >200 nt) that perform a wide range of functions in gene regulation. The Fragile X mental retardation 1 (FMR1) gene is a microsatellite locus that in the general population contains <55 CGG repeats in its 5′-untranslated region.
Using a novel technology called “Deep-RACE”, which combines rapid amplification of cDNA ends (RACE) with next generation sequencing, researchers from the University of Miami systematically interrogated the FMR1 gene locus for the occurrence of novel lncRNAs. They discovered two transcripts, FMR5 and FMR6. FMR5 is a sense lncRNA transcribed upstream of the FMR1 promoter, whereas FMR6 is an antisense transcript overlapping the 3′ region of FMR1. FMR5 was expressed in several human brain regions from unaffected individuals and from full and premutation patients. FMR6 was silenced in full mutation and, unexpectedly, in premutation carriers suggesting abnormal transcription and/or chromatin remodeling prior to transition to the full mutation. These lncRNAs may thus be useful as biomarkers, allowing for early detection and therapeutic intervention in FXS and FXTAS.
- Pastori C, Peschansky VJ, Barbouth D, Mehta A, Silva JP, Wahlestedt C. (2013) Comprehensive analysis of the transcriptional landscape of the human FMR1 gene reveals two new long noncoding RNAs differentially expressed in Fragile X syndrome and Fragile X-associated tremor/ataxia syndrome. Hum Genet [Epub ahead of print]. [article]