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      Long Non-Coding RNAs in the Regulation of Gene Expression: Physiology and Disease

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          Abstract

          The identification of RNAs that are not translated into proteins was an important breakthrough, defining the diversity of molecules involved in eukaryotic regulation of gene expression. These non-coding RNAs can be divided into two main classes according to their length: short non-coding RNAs, such as microRNAs (miRNAs), and long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs). The lncRNAs in association with other molecules can coordinate several physiological processes and their dysfunction may impact in several pathologies, including cancer and infectious diseases. They can control the flux of genetic information, such as chromosome structure modulation, transcription, splicing, messenger RNA (mRNA) stability, mRNA availability, and post-translational modifications. Long non-coding RNAs present interaction domains for DNA, mRNAs, miRNAs, and proteins, depending on both sequence and secondary structure. The advent of new generation sequencing has provided evidences of putative lncRNAs existence; however, the analysis of transcriptomes for their functional characterization remains a challenge. Here, we review some important aspects of lncRNA biology, focusing on their role as regulatory elements in gene expression modulation during physiological and disease processes, with implications in host and pathogens physiology, and their role in immune response modulation.

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          Most cited references 212

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          Long noncoding RNA HOTAIR reprograms chromatin state to promote cancer metastasis

          Large intervening noncoding RNAs (lincRNAs) are pervasively transcribed in the genome1, 2, 3 yet their potential involvement in human disease is not well understood4,5. Recent studies of dosage compensation, imprinting, and homeotic gene expression suggest that individual lincRNAs can function as the interface between DNA and specific chromatin remodeling activities6,7,8. Here we show that lincRNAs in the HOX loci become systematically dysregulated during breast cancer progression. The lincRNA termed HOTAIR is increased in expression in primary breast tumors and metastases, and HOTAIR expression level in primary tumors is a powerful predictor of eventual metastasis and death. Enforced expression of HOTAIR in epithelial cancer cells induced genome-wide re-targeting of Polycomb Repressive Complex 2 (PRC2) to an occupancy pattern more resembling embryonic fibroblasts, leading to altered histone H3 lysine 27 methylation, gene expression, and increased cancer invasiveness and metastasis in a manner dependent on PRC2. Conversely, loss of HOTAIR can inhibit cancer invasiveness, particularly in cells that possess excessive PRC2 activity. These findings suggest that lincRNAs play active roles in modulating the cancer epigenome and may be important targets for cancer diagnosis and therapy.
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            Natural RNA circles function as efficient microRNA sponges.

            MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are important post-transcriptional regulators of gene expression that act by direct base pairing to target sites within untranslated regions of messenger RNAs. Recently, miRNA activity has been shown to be affected by the presence of miRNA sponge transcripts, the so-called competing endogenous RNA in humans and target mimicry in plants. We previously identified a highly expressed circular RNA (circRNA) in human and mouse brain. Here we show that this circRNA acts as a miR-7 sponge; we term this circular transcript ciRS-7 (circular RNA sponge for miR-7). ciRS-7 contains more than 70 selectively conserved miRNA target sites, and it is highly and widely associated with Argonaute (AGO) proteins in a miR-7-dependent manner. Although the circRNA is completely resistant to miRNA-mediated target destabilization, it strongly suppresses miR-7 activity, resulting in increased levels of miR-7 targets. In the mouse brain, we observe overlapping co-expression of ciRS-7 and miR-7, particularly in neocortical and hippocampal neurons, suggesting a high degree of endogenous interaction. We further show that the testis-specific circRNA, sex-determining region Y (Sry), serves as a miR-138 sponge, suggesting that miRNA sponge effects achieved by circRNA formation are a general phenomenon. This study serves as the first, to our knowledge, functional analysis of a naturally expressed circRNA.
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              The GENCODE v7 catalog of human long noncoding RNAs: analysis of their gene structure, evolution, and expression.

              The human genome contains many thousands of long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs). While several studies have demonstrated compelling biological and disease roles for individual examples, analytical and experimental approaches to investigate these genes have been hampered by the lack of comprehensive lncRNA annotation. Here, we present and analyze the most complete human lncRNA annotation to date, produced by the GENCODE consortium within the framework of the ENCODE project and comprising 9277 manually annotated genes producing 14,880 transcripts. Our analyses indicate that lncRNAs are generated through pathways similar to that of protein-coding genes, with similar histone-modification profiles, splicing signals, and exon/intron lengths. In contrast to protein-coding genes, however, lncRNAs display a striking bias toward two-exon transcripts, they are predominantly localized in the chromatin and nucleus, and a fraction appear to be preferentially processed into small RNAs. They are under stronger selective pressure than neutrally evolving sequences-particularly in their promoter regions, which display levels of selection comparable to protein-coding genes. Importantly, about one-third seem to have arisen within the primate lineage. Comprehensive analysis of their expression in multiple human organs and brain regions shows that lncRNAs are generally lower expressed than protein-coding genes, and display more tissue-specific expression patterns, with a large fraction of tissue-specific lncRNAs expressed in the brain. Expression correlation analysis indicates that lncRNAs show particularly striking positive correlation with the expression of antisense coding genes. This GENCODE annotation represents a valuable resource for future studies of lncRNAs.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Noncoding RNA
                Noncoding RNA
                ncrna
                Non-Coding RNA
                MDPI
                2311-553X
                17 February 2019
                March 2019
                : 5
                : 1
                Affiliations
                Laboratório de Fisiologia de Tripanossomatídeos, Instituto de Biociências, Departamento de Fisiologia, Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo 05508-090, Brazil; juliane.cristina.fernandes@ 123456usp.br (J.C.R.F.); stephanie.acuna@ 123456usp.br (S.M.A.); juaoki@ 123456usp.br (J.I.A.); lucile@ 123456usp.br (L.M.F.-W.)
                Author notes
                [* ]Correspondence: sandrammuxel@ 123456usp.br ; Tel.: +55-11-3091-7503
                Article
                ncrna-05-00017
                10.3390/ncrna5010017
                6468922
                30781588
                © 2019 by the authors.

                Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

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