Non-coding RNAs: new players in eukaryotic biology

Gene. 2005 Sep 12;357(2):83-94. doi: 10.1016/j.gene.2005.06.019.


The completion of the human, mouse and other eukaryotic genomes were important scientific milestones, but they were just small steps towards the understanding of eukaryotic biology. Recent transcriptome analysis and different experimental approaches have identified a surprisingly large number of non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) in eukaryotic cells. ncRNAs comprise microRNAs, anti-sense transcripts and other Transcriptional Units containing a high density of stop codons and lacking any extensive "Open Reading Frame". They have been shown to regulate gene expression by novel mechanisms such as RNA interference, gene co-suppression, gene silencing, imprinting and DNA demethylation. It is becoming clear that these novel RNAs perform critical functions during development and cell differentiation. There is also mounting evidence of their involvement in cancer and neurological diseases. Together, all this information indicates that ncRNAs are emerging as a new class of functional transcripts in eukaryotes. Therefore, great challenges lie in the years ahead: understanding the molecular biology of higher organisms will require revealing all proteins (Proteome), all ncRNAs (RNome) and their interactions (Interactome) in the complex molecular scenario within eukaryotic cells.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology*
  • Eukaryotic Cells / physiology
  • Genome, Human*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Molecular Biology / trends
  • Proteome / physiology*
  • RNA Interference / physiology*
  • RNA, Untranslated / genetics
  • RNA, Untranslated / metabolism*


  • Proteome
  • RNA, Untranslated