Detection of intergenic non-coding RNAs expressed in the main developmental stages in Drosophila melanogaster

Nucleic Acids Res. 2009 Jul;37(13):4308-14. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkp334. Epub 2009 May 18.


How many intergenically encoded non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) are expressed during various developmental stages in Drosophila? Previous analyses in one or a few developmental stages indicated abundant expression of intergenic ncRNAs. However, some reported that ncRNAs have been recently falsified, and, in general, the false positive rate for ncRNA detection is unknown. In this report, we used reverse transcription-PCR (RT-PCR), a more robust method, to detect ncRNAs from the intergenic regions that are expressed in four major developmental stages (6-8 h embryo, 20-22 h embryo, larvae and adult). We tested 1027 regions, approximately 10% of all intergenic regions, and detected transcription by RT-PCR. The results from 18 342 RT-PCR experiments revealed evidence for transcription in 72.7% of intergenic regions in the developmental process. The early developmental stage appears to be associated with more abundant ncRNAs than later developmental stages. In the early stage, we detected 43.6% of intergenic regions that encode transcripts in the triplicate RT-PCR experiments, yielding an estimate of 5006 intergenic regions in the entire genome likely encoding ncRNAs. We compared the RT-PCR-related approach with previous tiling array-based approach and observed that the latter method is insensitive to short ncRNAs, especially the molecules less than 120 bp. We measured false positive rates for the analyzed genomic approaches including the RT-PCR and tiling array method.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA, Intergenic / chemistry
  • Drosophila melanogaster / embryology
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / growth & development
  • Genes, Insect
  • RNA, Untranslated / analysis
  • RNA, Untranslated / genetics*
  • RNA, Untranslated / metabolism


  • DNA, Intergenic
  • RNA, Untranslated