PerspectiveMolecular Biology

A Circuitous Route to Noncoding RNA

Science  26 Apr 2013:
Vol. 340, Issue 6131, pp. 440-441
DOI: 10.1126/science.1238522

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Summary

Most genetic information is expressed as, and transacted by, proteins. Yet, less than 2% of the human genome actually codes for proteins, prompting a search for functions for the other 98% of the genome, once considered to be mostly “junk DNA.” Transcription is pervasive, however, and high-throughput sequencing has identified tens of thousands of distinct RNAs generated from the non—protein—coding portion of the genome (1). These so-called noncoding RNAs vary in length, but like protein-coding RNAs, appear to be linear molecules with 5′ and 3′ termini, reflecting the defined start and end points of RNA polymerase on the DNA template. But do all RNAs have to be linear?

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