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Biol Chem. 2008 Apr;389(4):323-31. doi: 10.1515/BC.2008.047.

The role of long non-coding RNAs in chromatin structure and gene regulation: variations on a theme.

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  • 1Laboratory of Chromatin and Gene Expression, The Babraham Institute, Babraham Research Campus, Cambridge CB22 3AT, UK.


Transcriptome studies have uncovered a plethora of noncoding RNAs (ncRNA) in mammals. Most originate within intergenic regions of the genome and recent evidence indicates that some are involved in many different pathways that ultimately act on genome architecture and gene expression. In this review, we discuss the role of well-characterized long ncRNAs in gene regulation pointing to their similarities, but also their differences. We will attempt to highlight a paradoxical situation in which transcription is needed to repress entire chromosomal domains possibly through the action of ncRNAs that create nuclear environments refractory to transcription.

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