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Characters, functions and clinical perspectives of long non-coding RNAs

Abstract

It is well established that most of the human genome and those of other mammals and plants are transcribed into RNA without protein-coding capacity, which we define as non-coding RNA. From siRNA to microRNA, whose functions and features have been well characterized, non-coding RNAs have been a popular topic in life science research over the last decade. Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs), however, as a novel class of transcripts, are distinguished from these other small RNAs. Recent studies have revealed a diverse population of lncRNAs with different sizes and functions across different species. These populations are expressed dynamically and act as important regulators in a variety of biological processes, especially in gene expression. Nevertheless, the functions and mechanisms of most lncRNAs remain unclear. In this review, we present recent progress in the identification of lncRNAs, their functions and molecular mechanisms, their roles in human diseases, their potential diagnostic and therapeutic applications as well as newer technologies for identifying deregulated lncRNAs in disease tissues.

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Correspondence to Ming Zhao or Qianjin Lu.

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The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

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This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 81522038, 81270024, 81220108017, 81371743, 81373205 and 81430074), the Hunan Provincial Natural Science Foundation of China (14JJ1009) and the New Century Talent Supporting Project by Education Ministry.

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Communicated by J. Graw.

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Wu, R., Su, Y., Wu, H. et al. Characters, functions and clinical perspectives of long non-coding RNAs. Mol Genet Genomics 291, 1013–1033 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00438-016-1179-y

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Keywords

  • LncRNAs
  • Epigenetics
  • Human diseases
  • Diagnostics
  • Therapies