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      Long non-coding RNAs: new players in cell differentiation and development

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      Nature Reviews Genetics
      Springer Science and Business Media LLC

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          Abstract

          Genomes of multicellular organisms are characterized by the pervasive expression of different types of non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs). Long ncRNAs (lncRNAs) belong to a novel heterogeneous class of ncRNAs that includes thousands of different species. lncRNAs have crucial roles in gene expression control during both developmental and differentiation processes, and the number of lncRNA species increases in genomes of developmentally complex organisms, which highlights the importance of RNA-based levels of control in the evolution of multicellular organisms. In this Review, we describe the function of lncRNAs in developmental processes, such as in dosage compensation, genomic imprinting, cell differentiation and organogenesis, with a particular emphasis on mammalian development.

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          Most cited references64

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          Long noncoding RNA as modular scaffold of histone modification complexes.

          Long intergenic noncoding RNAs (lincRNAs) regulate chromatin states and epigenetic inheritance. Here, we show that the lincRNA HOTAIR serves as a scaffold for at least two distinct histone modification complexes. A 5' domain of HOTAIR binds polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2), whereas a 3' domain of HOTAIR binds the LSD1/CoREST/REST complex. The ability to tether two distinct complexes enables RNA-mediated assembly of PRC2 and LSD1 and coordinates targeting of PRC2 and LSD1 to chromatin for coupled histone H3 lysine 27 methylation and lysine 4 demethylation. Our results suggest that lincRNAs may serve as scaffolds by providing binding surfaces to assemble select histone modification enzymes, thereby specifying the pattern of histone modifications on target genes.
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            A coding-independent function of gene and pseudogene mRNAs regulates tumour biology

            The canonical role of messenger RNA (mRNA) is to deliver protein-coding information to sites of protein synthesis. However, given that microRNAs bind to RNAs, we hypothesized that RNAs possess a biological role in cancer cells that relies upon their ability to compete for microRNA binding and is independent of their protein-coding function. As a paradigm for the protein-coding-independent role of RNAs, we describe the functional relationship between the mRNAs produced by the PTEN tumour suppressor gene and its pseudogene (PTENP1) and the critical consequences of this interaction. We find that PTENP1 is biologically active as determined by its ability to regulate cellular levels of PTEN, and that it can exert a growth-suppressive role. We also show that PTENP1 locus is selectively lost in human cancer. We extend our analysis to other cancer-related genes that possess pseudogenes, such as oncogenic KRAS. Further, we demonstrate that the transcripts of protein coding genes such as PTEN are also biologically active. Together, these findings attribute a novel biological role to expressed pseudogenes, as they can regulate coding gene expression, and reveal a non-coding function for mRNAs.
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              Roles for microRNAs in conferring robustness to biological processes.

              Biological systems use a variety of mechanisms to maintain their functions in the face of environmental and genetic perturbations. Increasing evidence suggests that, among their roles as posttranscriptional repressors of gene expression, microRNAs (miRNAs) help to confer robustness to biological processes by reinforcing transcriptional programs and attenuating aberrant transcripts, and they may in some network contexts help suppress random fluctuations in transcript copy number. These activities have important consequences for normal development and physiology, disease, and evolution. Here, we will discuss examples and principles of miRNAs that contribute to robustness in animal systems. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nature Reviews Genetics
                Nat Rev Genet
                Springer Science and Business Media LLC
                1471-0056
                1471-0064
                January 2014
                December 3 2013
                January 2014
                : 15
                : 1
                : 7-21
                Article
                10.1038/nrg3606
                24296535
                079b0c78-01e7-49fa-b6d1-c63e1a5e1d13
                © 2014

                http://www.springer.com/tdm

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