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Curr Opin Genet Dev. 2010 Apr;20(2):149-55. doi: 10.1016/j.gde.2010.01.004. Epub 2010 Feb 20.

Genomic gems: SINE RNAs regulate mRNA production.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Colorado, Boulder, 80309-0215, USA.


Mammalian short interspersed elements (SINEs) are abundant retrotransposons that have long been considered junk DNA; however, RNAs transcribed from mouse B2 and human Alu SINEs have recently been found to control mRNA production at multiple levels. Upon cell stress B2 and Alu RNAs bind RNA polymerase II (Pol II) and repress transcription of some protein-encoding genes. Bi-directional transcription of a B2 SINE establishes a boundary that places the growth hormone locus in a permissive chromatin state during mouse development. Alu RNAs embedded in Pol II transcripts can promote evolution and proteome diversity through exonization via alternative splicing. Given the diverse means by which SINE encoded RNAs impact production of mRNAs, this genomic junk is proving to contain hidden gems.

2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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