RNA is accurately entangled in virtually all pathways that maintain cellular homeostasis. To name but a few, RNA is the "messenger" between DNA encoded information and the resulting proteins. Furthermore, RNAs regulate diverse processes by forming DNA::RNA or RNA::RNA interactions. Finally, RNA itself can be the scaffold for ribonucleoprotein complexes, for example, ribosomes or cellular bodies. Consequently, disruption of any of these processes can lead to disease. This review describes known and emerging RNA-based disease mechanisms like interference with regular splicing, the anomalous appearance of RNA-protein complexes and uncommon RNA species, as well as non-canonical translation. Due to the complexity and entanglement of the above-mentioned pathways, only few drugs are available that target RNA-based disease mechanisms. However, advances in our understanding how RNA is involved in and modulates cellular homeostasis might pave the way to novel treatments.
Keywords: RAN translation; alternative splicing; microsatellite expansions; neurodegenerative diseases; non-coding RNAs.
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