Chapter

Molecular Biology of Long Non-coding RNAs

pp 163-195

Date:

Emerging Technologies to Study Long Non-coding RNAs

  • Fereshteh JahanianiAffiliated withDepartment of Genetics, Stanford University
  • , Varsha RaoAffiliated withDepartment of Genetics, Stanford University
  • , Stephanie NevinsAffiliated withDepartment of Genetics, Stanford University
  • , Damek SpacekAffiliated withDepartment of Genetics, Stanford University
  • , Neal BharadwajAffiliated withDepartment of Genetics, Stanford University
  • , Jason ReuterAffiliated withDepartment of Genetics, Stanford University
  • , Michael SnyderAffiliated withDepartment of Genetics, Stanford University Email author 

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Abstract

It has been less than half a century since Robert W. Holley et al. used 140 kg of commercial baker’s yeast to characterize the first noncoding RNA (ncRNA), alanine tRNA. Now, 48 years later, advancements in genomic technologies have enabled scientists to study genomes, transcriptomes, and proteomes, on an unprecedented and high-throughput scale, and even at the single cell resolution. These discoveries have completely changed the classical view of the central dogma of molecular biology, as we now understand that protein coding genes account for less than 2 % of human genome, however, the vast majority of the genome is transcribed (Clark et al. 2011) {Lander, 2001 #41}. This means that the bulk of the genome encodes for ncRNA molecules, which can be further categorized into housekeeping and regulatory ncRNAs. The latter can be broadly classified based on their size as small ncRNAs (< 200 bp) and long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) (> 200 bp) (Nagano and Fraser 2011; Ponting et al. 2009). Many of the small ncRNAs have been identified and their mechanism of action has been heavily studied. However, the journey to study the lncRNAs has just begun (Gupta et al. 2010; Wilusz et al. 2009; Derrien et al. 2012).