Chromosome Research

, Volume 21, Issue 6–7, pp 673–684 | Cite as

Long noncoding RNAs as metazoan developmental regulators

  • Jamila I. HorabinEmail author


The study of long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) is still in its infancy with more putative RNAs identified than those with ascribed functions. Defined as transcripts that are longer than 200 nucleotides without a coding sequence, their numbers are on the rise and may well challenge protein coding transcripts in number and diversity. lncRNAs are often expressed at low levels and their sequences are frequently poorly conserved, making it unclear if they are transcriptional noise or bonafide effectors. Despite these limitations, inroads into their functions are being made and it is clear they make a contribution in regulating all aspects of biology. The early verdict on their activity, however, suggests the majority function as chromatin modifiers. A good proportion show a connection to disease highlighting their importance and the need to determine their function. The focus of this review is on lncRNAs which influence developmental processes which in itself covers a large range of known activities.


lncRNA development transcription chromatin modifiers scaffolds RNAP II pausing 



Bromodomain protein 4


Cyclin dependent kinase 7


Corepressor of RE1 silencing transcription factor


C-terminal domain


Dosage compensation complex


Deoxyribonucleic acid


HOX antisense intergenic RNA


HOXA transcript at the distal tip


Long noncoding RNAs


Messenger RNA


Open reading frame


Positive transcription elongation factor b


Polycomb group


Polycomb repressive complex 2


Polycomb response elements


Ribonucleic acid


RNA polymerase II


Staufen 1 protein


Terminal differentiation-induced ncRNA


Trithorax group


X-inactive specific transcript



I would like to thank the Biomedical Sciences Department, College of Medicine at Florida State University for the financial support and the members of my lab for comments on the manuscript.

Conflict of interest

The author declares no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biomedical Sciences, College of MedicineFlorida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA

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