Epigenetic Regulation by Long Noncoding RNAs

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Science  14 Dec 2012:
Vol. 338, Issue 6113, pp. 1435-1439
DOI: 10.1126/science.1231776

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Recent studies show that transcription of the mammalian genome is not only pervasive but also enormously complex. It is estimated that an average of 10 transcription units, the vast majority of which make long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs), may overlap each traditional coding gene. These lncRNAs include not only antisense, intronic, and intergenic transcripts but also pseudogenes and retrotransposons. Do they universally have function, or are they merely transcriptional by-products of conventional coding genes? A glimpse into the molecular biology of multiple emerging lncRNA systems reveals the “Wild West” landscape of their functions and mechanisms and the key problems to solve in the years ahead toward understanding these intriguing macromolecules.

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