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      The Dark Side of the Epitranscriptome: Chemical Modifications in Long Non-Coding RNAs

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          Abstract

          The broad application of next-generation sequencing technologies in conjunction with improved bioinformatics has helped to illuminate the complexity of the transcriptome, both in terms of quantity and variety. In humans, 70–90% of the genome is transcribed, but only ~2% carries the blueprint for proteins. Hence, there is a huge class of non-translated transcripts, called long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs), which have received much attention in the past decade. Several studies have shown that lncRNAs are involved in a plethora of cellular signaling pathways and actively regulate gene expression via a broad selection of molecular mechanisms. Only recently, sequencing-based, transcriptome-wide studies have characterized different types of post-transcriptional chemical modifications of RNAs. These modifications have been shown to affect the fate of RNA and further expand the variety of the transcriptome. However, our understanding of their biological function, especially in the context of lncRNAs, is still in its infancy. In this review, we will focus on three epitranscriptomic marks, namely pseudouridine (Ψ), N 6-methyladenosine (m 6A) and 5-methylcytosine (m 5C). We will introduce writers, readers, and erasers of these modifications, and we will present methods for their detection. Finally, we will provide insights into the distribution and function of these chemical modifications in selected, cancer-related lncRNAs.

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          Most cited references 202

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          An Integrated Encyclopedia of DNA Elements in the Human Genome

          Summary The human genome encodes the blueprint of life, but the function of the vast majority of its nearly three billion bases is unknown. The Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE) project has systematically mapped regions of transcription, transcription factor association, chromatin structure, and histone modification. These data enabled us to assign biochemical functions for 80% of the genome, in particular outside of the well-studied protein-coding regions. Many discovered candidate regulatory elements are physically associated with one another and with expressed genes, providing new insights into the mechanisms of gene regulation. The newly identified elements also show a statistical correspondence to sequence variants linked to human disease, and can thereby guide interpretation of this variation. Overall the project provides new insights into the organization and regulation of our genes and genome, and an expansive resource of functional annotations for biomedical research.
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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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              Evolution and functions of long noncoding RNAs.

              RNA is not only a messenger operating between DNA and protein. Transcription of essentially the entire eukaryotic genome generates a myriad of non-protein-coding RNA species that show complex overlapping patterns of expression and regulation. Although long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) are among the least well-understood of these transcript species, they cannot all be dismissed as merely transcriptional "noise." Here, we review the evolution of lncRNAs and their roles in transcriptional regulation, epigenetic gene regulation, and disease.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Int J Mol Sci
                Int J Mol Sci
                ijms
                International Journal of Molecular Sciences
                MDPI
                1422-0067
                10 November 2017
                November 2017
                : 18
                : 11
                Affiliations
                Faculty of Medicine, Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg, 06120 Halle (Saale), Germany; roland.jacob@ 123456uk-halle.de (R.J.); sindy.zander2@ 123456uk-halle.de (S.Z.)
                Author notes
                [* ]Correspondence: tony.gutschner@ 123456uk-halle.de ; Tel.: +49-345-552-2863
                [†]

                These authors contributed equally to this work.

                Article
                ijms-18-02387
                10.3390/ijms18112387
                5713356
                29125541
                © 2017 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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