Long non-coding RNAs: new players in cell differentiation and development

Nat Rev Genet. 2014 Jan;15(1):7-21. doi: 10.1038/nrg3606. Epub 2013 Dec 3.


Genomes of multicellular organisms are characterized by the pervasive expression of different types of non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs). Long ncRNAs (lncRNAs) belong to a novel heterogeneous class of ncRNAs that includes thousands of different species. lncRNAs have crucial roles in gene expression control during both developmental and differentiation processes, and the number of lncRNA species increases in genomes of developmentally complex organisms, which highlights the importance of RNA-based levels of control in the evolution of multicellular organisms. In this Review, we describe the function of lncRNAs in developmental processes, such as in dosage compensation, genomic imprinting, cell differentiation and organogenesis, with a particular emphasis on mammalian development.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics*
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Cytoplasm / genetics
  • Dosage Compensation, Genetic / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / genetics*
  • Genomic Imprinting / genetics*
  • Mammals / genetics*
  • Mammals / growth & development
  • Models, Genetic*
  • Models, Molecular
  • Muscles / physiology
  • Organogenesis / genetics*
  • RNA, Long Noncoding / genetics*
  • Species Specificity


  • RNA, Long Noncoding