Post-transcriptional inducible gene regulation by natural antisense RNA

Front Biosci (Landmark Ed). 2015 Jan 1;20:1-36. doi: 10.2741/4297.


Accumulating data indicate the existence of natural antisense transcripts (asRNAs), frequently transcribed from eukaryotic genes and do not encode proteins in many cases. However, their importance has been overlooked due to their heterogeneity, low expression level, and unknown function. Genes induced in responses to various stimuli are transcriptionally regulated by the activation of a gene promoter and post-transcriptionally regulated by controlling mRNA stability and translatability. A low-copy-number asRNA may post-transcriptionally regulate gene expression with cis-controlling elements on the mRNA. The asRNA itself may act as regulatory RNA in concert with trans-acting factors, including various RNA-binding proteins that bind to cis-controlling elements, microRNAs, and drugs. A novel mechanism that regulates mRNA stability includes the interaction of asRNA with mRNA by hybridization to loops in secondary structures. Furthermore, recent studies have shown that the functional network of mRNAs, asRNAs, and microRNAs finely tunes the levels of mRNA expression. The post-transcriptional mechanisms via these RNA-RNA interactions may play pivotal roles to regulate inducible gene expression and present the possibility of the involvement of asRNAs in various diseases.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Gene Expression Regulation / genetics*
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • RNA Processing, Post-Transcriptional*
  • RNA, Antisense / chemistry
  • RNA, Antisense / genetics*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics


  • RNA, Antisense
  • RNA, Messenger