A paradigm shift is sweeping modern day molecular biology following the realisation that large amounts of "junk" DNA", thought initially to be evolutionary remnants, may actually be functional. Several recent studies support a functional role for pseudogene-expressed non-coding RNAs in regulating their protein-coding counterparts. Several hundreds of pseudogenes have been reported as transcribed into RNA in a large variety of tissues and tumours. Most studies have focused on pseudogenes expressed in the sense direction, but some reports suggest that pseudogenes can also be transcribed as antisense RNAs (asRNAs). A few examples of key regulatory genes, such as PTEN and OCT4, have in fact been reported to be under the regulation of pseudogene-expressed asRNAs. Here, we review what are known about pseudogene expressed non-coding RNA mediated gene regulation and their roles in the control of epigenetic states. This article is part of a Directed Issue entitled: The Non-coding RNA Revolution.
Keywords: Epigenetic control; Pseudogenes; Transcription; lncRNAs.
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