The increased application of transcriptome-wide profiling approaches has led to an explosion in the number of documented long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs). While these new and enigmatic players in the complex transcriptional milieu are encoded by a significant proportion of the genome, their functions are mostly unknown. Early discoveries support a paradigm in which lncRNAs regulate transcription via chromatin modulation, but new functions are steadily emerging. Given the biochemical versatility of RNA, lncRNAs may be used for various tasks, including post-transcriptional regulation, organization of protein complexes, cell-cell signalling and allosteric regulation of proteins.
Geisler S, Coller J. (2013) RNA in unexpected places: long non-coding RNA functions in diverse cellular contexts. Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol [Epub ahead of print]. [abstract]