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Annu Rev Neurosci. 2006;29:77-103.

Noncoding RNAs in the mammalian central nervous system.

Author information

1
Laboratory of Genetics, The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, California 92037, USA. cao@salk.edu

Abstract

The central nervous system (CNS) is arguably one of the most complex systems in the universe. To understand the CNS, scientists have investigated a variety of molecules, including proteins, lipids, and various small molecules. However, one large class of molecules, noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs), has been relatively unexplored. ncRNAs function directly as structural, catalytic, or regulatory molecules rather than serving as templates for protein synthesis. The increasing variety of ncRNAs being identified in the CNS suggests a strong connection between the biogenesis, dynamics of action, and combinatorial regulatory potential of ncRNAs and the complexity of the CNS. In this review, we give an overview of the diversity and abundance of ncRNAs before delving into specific examples that illustrate their importance in the CNS. In particular, we cover recent evidence for the roles of microRNAs, small nucleolar RNAs, retrotransposons, the NRSE small modulatory RNA, and BC1/BC200 in the CNS. Finally, we speculate why ncRNAs are well adapted to improving organism-environment interactions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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