Small nucleolar RNAs (snoRNAs) are an ancient class of small non-coding RNAs present in all eukaryotes and a subset of archaea that carry out a fundamental role in the modification and processing of ribosomal RNA. In recent years, however, a large proportion of snoRNAs have been found to be further processed into smaller molecules, some of which display different functionality. In parallel, several studies have uncovered extensive similarities between snoRNAs and other types of small non-coding RNAs, and in particular microRNAs. Here, we explore the extent of the relationship between these types of non-coding RNA and the possible underlying evolutionary forces that shaped this subset of the current non-coding RNA landscape.
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