News & AnalysisBiology of Genomes

Long Noncoding RNAs May Alter Chromosome's 3D Structure

Science  24 May 2013:
Vol. 340, Issue 6135, pp. 910
DOI: 10.1126/science.340.6135.910-a

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Summary

Thirteen-thousand "genes" specify mysterious molecules called long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs), but what are they good for? Some researchers have suggested that they represent "noise": DNA randomly converted to RNA that serves no purpose. Others propose that they may be as pivotal as proteins in guiding cellular processes. Now, researchers think lncRNAs have a role in regulating chromosomal activity by influencing the shape of chromatin, the protein complex that swaddles DNA. [Also see Pennisi]