lncRNAs in development and disease: from functions to mechanisms

Open Biol. 2017 Jul;7(7):170121. doi: 10.1098/rsob.170121.


Differential expression of long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) during differentiation and their misregulation in cancer highlight their potential as cell fate regulators. While some example lncRNAs have been characterized in great detail, the functional in vivo relevance of others has been called into question. Finding functional lncRNAs will most probably require a combination of complementary approaches that will greatly vary depending on their mode of action. In this review, we discuss the different tools available to dissect genetically lncRNA requirements and how each is best suited to studies in particular contexts. Moreover, we review different strategies used to select candidate lncRNAs and give an overview of lncRNAs described to regulate development and cancer through different mechanisms.

Keywords: cancer; development; long non-coding RNAs.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / genetics
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / metabolism
  • Chromatin / genetics
  • Chromatin / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Genetic Association Studies*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Organ Specificity / genetics
  • RNA, Long Noncoding / genetics*


  • Chromatin
  • RNA, Long Noncoding