Over the last two decades it has become clear that RNA is much more than just a boring intermediate in protein expression. Ancient RNAs still appear in the core information metabolism and comprise a surprisingly large component in bacterial gene regulation. A common theme with these types of mostly small RNAs is their reliance of conserved secondary structures. Large scale sequencing projects, on the other hand, have profoundly changed our understanding of eukaryotic genomes. Pervasively transcribed, they give rise to a plethora of large and evolutionarily extremely flexible noncoding RNAs that exert a vastly diverse array of molecule functions. In this chapter we provide a-necessarily incomplete-overview of the current state of comparative analysis of noncoding RNAs, emphasizing computational approaches as a means to gain a global picture of the modern RNA world.
Keywords: Alternative splicing; Chromatin; Evolution; Long noncoding RNA; RNA secondary structure.