Inverted repeat Alu elements in the human lincRNA-p21 adopt a conserved secondary structure that regulates RNA function

Nucleic Acids Res. 2016 Nov 2;44(19):9462-9471. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkw599. Epub 2016 Jul 4.


LincRNA-p21 is a long intergenic non-coding RNA (lincRNA) involved in the p53-mediated stress response. We sequenced the human lincRNA-p21 (hLincRNA-p21) and found that it has a single exon that includes inverted repeat Alu elements (IRAlus). Sense and antisense Alu elements fold independently of one another into a secondary structure that is conserved in lincRNA-p21 among primates. Moreover, the structures formed by IRAlus are involved in the localization of hLincRNA-p21 in the nucleus, where hLincRNA-p21 colocalizes with paraspeckles. Our results underscore the importance of IRAlus structures for the function of hLincRNA-p21 during the stress response.

MeSH terms

  • Alu Elements*
  • Animals
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Nucleus / genetics
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Conserved Sequence*
  • Gene Order
  • Humans
  • Inverted Repeat Sequences*
  • Mice
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation*
  • RNA Transport
  • RNA, Long Noncoding / chemistry*
  • RNA, Long Noncoding / genetics*
  • Stress, Physiological
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / genetics


  • RNA, Long Noncoding
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53