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Curr Biol. 2005 Mar 29;15(6):501-12.

The noncoding RNA taurine upregulated gene 1 is required for differentiation of the murine retina.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.



With the advent of genome-wide analyses, it is becoming evident that a large number of noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs) are expressed in vertebrates. However, of the thousands of ncRNAs identified, the functions of relatively few have been established.


In a screen for genes upregulated by taurine in developing retinal cells, we identified a gene that appears to be a ncRNA. Taurine Upregulated Gene 1 (TUG1) is a spliced, polyadenylated RNA that does not encode any open reading frame greater than 82 amino acids in its full-length, 6.7 kilobase (kb) RNA sequence. Analyses of Northern blots and in situ hybridization revealed that TUG1 is expressed in the developing retina and brain, as well as in adult tissues. In the newborn retina, knockdown of TUG1 with RNA interference (RNAi) resulted in malformed or nonexistent outer segments of transfected photoreceptors. Immunofluorescent staining and microarray analyses suggested that this loss of proper photoreceptor differentiation is a result of the disregulation of photoreceptor gene expression.


A function for a newly identified ncRNA, TUG1, has been established. TUG1 is necessary for the proper formation of photoreceptors in the developing rodent retina.

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