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RNA. 2011 May;17(5):792-8. doi: 10.1261/rna.2658311. Epub 2011 Mar 11.

Pseudogenes: pseudo-functional or key regulators in health and disease?

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  • 1School of Life Sciences, Oxford Brookes University, Headington, Oxford, United Kingdom.

Abstract

Pseudogenes have long been labeled as "junk" DNA, failed copies of genes that arise during the evolution of genomes. However, recent results are challenging this moniker; indeed, some pseudogenes appear to harbor the potential to regulate their protein-coding cousins. Far from being silent relics, many pseudogenes are transcribed into RNA, some exhibiting a tissue-specific pattern of activation. Pseudogene transcripts can be processed into short interfering RNAs that regulate coding genes through the RNAi pathway. In another remarkable discovery, it has been shown that pseudogenes are capable of regulating tumor suppressors and oncogenes by acting as microRNA decoys. The finding that pseudogenes are often deregulated during cancer progression warrants further investigation into the true extent of pseudogene function. In this review, we describe the ways in which pseudogenes exert their effect on coding genes and explore the role of pseudogenes in the increasingly complex web of noncoding RNA that contributes to normal cellular regulation.

PMID:
21398401
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3078729
Free PMC Article

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