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Gene. 1998 Apr 28;211(1):1-9.

Do natural antisense transcripts make sense in eukaryotes?

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  • 1UPR0415, ICGM, 22 rue Méchain, 75014, Paris, France.


The existence of naturally occurring antisense RNAs has been illustrated, in eukaryotes, by an increasing number of reports. The following review presents the major findings in this field, with a special focus on the regulation of gene expression exerted by endogenous complementary transcripts. A large variety of eukaryotic organisms, contains antisense transcripts. Moreover, the great diversity of genetic loci encoding overlapping sense and antisense RNAs suggests that such transcripts may be involved in numerous biological functions, such as control of development, adaptative response. viral infection. The regulation of gene expression by endogenous antisense RNAs seems of general importance in eukaryotes as already established in prokaryotes: it is likely to be involved in the control of various biological functions and to play a role in the development of pathological situations. Several experimental evidences for coupled, balanced or unbalanced expression of sense and antisense RNAs suggest that antisense transcripts may govern the expression of their sense counterparts. Furthermore, documented examples indicate that this control may be exerted at many levels of gene expression (transcription, maturation, transport, stability and translation). This review also addresses the underlying molecular mechanisms of antisense regulation and presents the current mechanistic hypotheses.

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