Eukaryotic snoRNAs: a paradigm for gene expression flexibility

Genomics. 2009 Aug;94(2):83-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ygeno.2009.05.002. Epub 2009 May 13.


Small nucleolar RNAs (snoRNAs) are one of the most ancient and numerous families of non-protein-coding RNAs (ncRNAs). The main function of snoRNAs - to guide site-specific rRNA modification - is the same in Archaea and all eukaryotic lineages. In contrast, as revealed by recent genomic and RNomic studies, their genomic organization and expression strategies are the most varied. Seemingly snoRNA coding units have adopted, in the course of evolution, all the possible ways of being transcribed, thus providing a unique paradigm of gene expression flexibility. By focusing on representative fungal, plant and animal genomes, we review here all the documented types of snoRNA gene organization and expression, and we provide a comprehensive account of snoRNA expressional freedom by precisely estimating the frequency, in each genome, of each type of genomic organization. We finally discuss the relevance of snoRNA genomic studies for our general understanding of ncRNA family evolution and expression in eukaryotes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Biological
  • Animals
  • Eukaryotic Cells / metabolism*
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Gene Expression*
  • Genome
  • Humans
  • RNA, Small Nucleolar / genetics*


  • RNA, Small Nucleolar