, Volume 51, Issue 3, pp 141-159
Date: 15 Dec 2006

Treasure hunt in an amoeba: non-coding RNAs in Dictyostelium discoideum

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Abstract

The traditional view of RNA being merely an intermediate in the transfer of genetic information, as mRNA, spliceosomal RNA, tRNA, and rRNA, has become outdated. The recent discovery of numerous regulatory RNAs with a plethora of functions in biological processes has truly revolutionized our understanding of gene regulation. Tiny RNAs such as microRNAs and small interfering RNAs play vital roles at different levels of gene control. Small nucleolar RNAs are much more abundant than previously recognized, and new functions beyond processing and modification of rRNA have recently emerged. Longer non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) can also have important regulatory roles in the cell, e.g., antisense RNAs that control their target mRNAs. The majority of these important findings arose from analyses in various model organisms. In this review, we focus on ncRNAs in the social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum. This important genetically tractable model organism has recently received renewed attention in terms of discovery, regulation and functional studies of ncRNAs. Old and recent findings are discussed and put in context of what we today know about ncRNAs in other organisms.

Communicated by S. Hohmann.