Advances in genomics technology over recent years have led to the surprising discovery that the genome is far more pervasively transcribed than was previously appreciated. Much of the newly-discovered transcriptome appears to represent long non-coding RNA (lncRNA), a heterogeneous group of largely uncharacterised transcripts. Understanding the biological function of these molecules represents a major challenge and in this review we discuss some of the progress made to date. One major theme of lncRNA biology seems to be the existence of a network of interactions with microRNA (miRNA) pathways. lncRNA has been shown to act as both a source and an inhibitory regulator of miRNA. At the transcriptional level, a model is emerging whereby lncRNA bridges DNA and protein by binding to chromatin and serving as a scaffold for modifying protein complexes. Such a mechanism can bridge promoters to enhancers or enhancer-like non-coding genes by regulating chromatin looping, as well as conferring specificity on histone modifying complexes by directing them to specific loci.
Keywords: Epigenetics; Long non-coding RNA; MicroRNA; Post-transcriptional regulation; Transcriptional regulation.
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