EVOLUTIONARY GENOMICS

Not missing the origins of lncRNAs

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Science  13 Oct 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6360, pp. 184-185
DOI: 10.1126/science.358.6360.184-d

Long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) are RNA transcripts within the human genome that do not encode proteins. Some lncRNAs have important regulatory functions, such as in silencing the extra X chromosome in females. However, little is known about the origin and maintenance of lncRNAs that are conserved across many mammalian lineages. Hezroni et al. used computational methods to determine that less than 5% of lncRNAs originated from RNA transcripts that once could be translated into proteins. Although they make up a relatively small amount of the genome, these lncRNAs show persistence: Some appear to have lost their protein-coding function more than 200 million years ago but are still maintained as conserved transcripts within mammalian genomes.

Genome Biol. 18, 62 (2017).

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