Long non-coding RNAs: Enigmatic regulators of cell programs

Long non-coding RNAs: Enigmatic regulators of cell programs

Most long non-coding RNAs (lincRNAs) are of unknown function. In contrast to protein coding sequence, we cannot predict function from domain homology. In a recent study in Cell Metabolism, Akerman et al. took a brave new punch to reveal the functions of lincRNAs in human pancreatic beta cells. The authors used RNAi-based perturbations of lincRNAs in human cell lines, and measured global changes in lincRNA profiles with co-expression networks (WGCNA2). Using these techniques, the study showed that lincRNAs influence gene expression via enhancers. Two lincRNAs were demonstrated to be downregulated in type 2 diabetes (PLUTO and PDX1). We anticipate many more studies in the future that take on this functional approach to lincRNAs. After all, there is a huge gap between discovery of RNAs and understanding their functions.

Comments are closed.