The RNA Atlas expands the catalog of human non-coding RNAs

Nat Biotechnol. 2021 Nov;39(11):1453-1465. doi: 10.1038/s41587-021-00936-1. Epub 2021 Jun 17.


Existing compendia of non-coding RNA (ncRNA) are incomplete, in part because they are derived almost exclusively from small and polyadenylated RNAs. Here we present a more comprehensive atlas of the human transcriptome, which includes small and polyA RNA as well as total RNA from 300 human tissues and cell lines. We report thousands of previously uncharacterized RNAs, increasing the number of documented ncRNAs by approximately 8%. To infer functional regulation by known and newly characterized ncRNAs, we exploited pre-mRNA abundance estimates from total RNA sequencing, revealing 316 microRNAs and 3,310 long non-coding RNAs with multiple lines of evidence for roles in regulating protein-coding genes and pathways. Our study both refines and expands the current catalog of human ncRNAs and their regulatory interactions. All data, analyses and results are available for download and interrogation in the R2 web portal, serving as a basis for future exploration of RNA biology and function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • MicroRNAs* / genetics
  • RNA, Long Noncoding* / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA, Untranslated / genetics
  • Transcriptome / genetics


  • MicroRNAs
  • RNA, Long Noncoding
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA, Untranslated