Diverging RNPs: Toward Understanding lncRNA-Protein Interactions and Functions
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RNA-protein interactions are essential to a variety of biological processes. The realization that mammalian genomes are pervasively transcribed brought a tidal wave of tens of thousands of newly identified long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) and raised questions about their purpose in cells. The vast majority of lncRNAs have yet to be studied, and it remains to be determined to how many of these transcripts a function can be ascribed. However, results gleaned from studying a handful of these macromolecules have started to reveal common themes of biological function and mechanism of action involving intricate RNA-protein interactions. Some lncRNAs were shown to regulate the chromatin and transcription of distant and neighboring genes in the nucleus, while others regulate the translation or localization of proteins in the cytoplasm. Some lncRNAs were found to be crucial during development, while mutations and aberrant expression of others have been associated with several types of cancer and a plethora of diseases. Over the last few years, the establishment of new technologies has been key in providing the tools to decode the rules governing lncRNA-protein interactions and functions. This chapter will highlight the general characteristics of lncRNAs, their function, and their mode of action, with a special focus on protein interactions. It will also describe the methods at the disposition of scientists to help them cross this next frontier in our understanding of lncRNA biology.
KeywordsLong noncoding RNAs RNA-protein interactions RNA biology Ribonucleoprotein complexes Functional RNAs
I would like to thank Drs Marlene Oeffinger and Daniel Zenklusen for insightful discussions and critically reading the manuscript as well as members of my laboratory for their input.
M.S. is a Junior Research Scholar of the Fonds de Recherche du Québéc Santé (FRQS). This work is also supported by a Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Project Grant, a National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Discovery Grant, and a Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) John R. Evans Leaders Fund Grant to M.S.
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