Cellular viability depends upon the well-orchestrated functions carried out by numerous protein-coding and non-coding RNAs, as well as RNA-binding proteins. During the last decade, it has become increasingly evident that abnormalities in RNA processing represent a common feature among many neurodegenerative diseases. In "RNAopathies", which include diseases caused by non-coding repeat expansions, RNAs exert toxicity via diverse mechanisms: RNA foci formation, bidirectional transcription, and the production of toxic RNAs and proteins by repeat associated non-ATG translation. The mechanisms of toxicity in "RNA-binding proteinopathies", diseases in which RNA-binding proteins like TDP-43 and FUS play a prominent role, have yet to be fully elucidated. Nonetheless, both loss of function of the RNA binding protein, and a toxic gain of function resulting from its aggregation, are thought to be involved in disease pathogenesis. As part of the special issue on RNA and Splicing Regulation in Neurodegeneration, this review intends to explore the diverse RNA-related mechanisms contributing to neurodegeneration, with a special emphasis on findings emerging from animal models.
Keywords: Bidirectional transcription; Mouse models; Neurodegenerative diseases; RAN translation; RNA foci; RNA processing.
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