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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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          The transcriptional landscape of the mammalian genome.

          This study describes comprehensive polling of transcription start and termination sites and analysis of previously unidentified full-length complementary DNAs derived from the mouse genome. We identify the 5' and 3' boundaries of 181,047 transcripts with extensive variation in transcripts arising from alternative promoter usage, splicing, and polyadenylation. There are 16,247 new mouse protein-coding transcripts, including 5154 encoding previously unidentified proteins. Genomic mapping of the transcriptome reveals transcriptional forests, with overlapping transcription on both strands, separated by deserts in which few transcripts are observed. The data provide a comprehensive platform for the comparative analysis of mammalian transcriptional regulation in differentiation and development.
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            RNA maps reveal new RNA classes and a possible function for pervasive transcription.

            Significant fractions of eukaryotic genomes give rise to RNA, much of which is unannotated and has reduced protein-coding potential. The genomic origins and the associations of human nuclear and cytosolic polyadenylated RNAs longer than 200 nucleotides (nt) and whole-cell RNAs less than 200 nt were investigated in this genome-wide study. Subcellular addresses for nucleotides present in detected RNAs were assigned, and their potential processing into short RNAs was investigated. Taken together, these observations suggest a novel role for some unannotated RNAs as primary transcripts for the production of short RNAs. Three potentially functional classes of RNAs have been identified, two of which are syntenically conserved and correlate with the expression state of protein-coding genes. These data support a highly interleaved organization of the human transcriptome.
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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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                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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