Plants have an extraordinary diversity of transcription machineries, including five nuclear DNA-dependent RNA polymerases. Four of these enzymes are dedicated to the production of long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs), which are ribonucleic acids with functions independent of their protein-coding potential. lncRNAs display a broad range of lengths and structures, but they are distinct from the small RNA guides of RNA interference (RNAi) pathways. lncRNAs frequently serve as structural, catalytic, or regulatory molecules for gene expression. They can affect all elements of genes, including promoters, untranslated regions, exons, introns, and terminators, controlling gene expression at various levels, including modifying chromatin accessibility, transcription, splicing, and translation. Certain lncRNAs protect genome integrity, while others respond to environmental cues like temperature, drought, nutrients, and pathogens. In this review, we explain the challenge of defining lncRNAs, introduce the machineries responsible for their production, and organize this knowledge by viewing the functions of lncRNAs throughout the structure of a typical plant gene.
Keywords: RNA polymerases; RNA-directed DNA methylation; gene regulation; lncRNA.