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The expanding universe of noncoding RNAs.

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Watson School of Biological Sciences, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor, New York 11724, USA.


The 71st Cold Spring Harbor Symposium on Quantitative Biology celebrated the numerous and expanding roles of regulatory RNAs in systems ranging from bacteria to mammals. It was clearly evident that noncoding RNAs are undergoing a renaissance, with reports of their involvement in nearly every cellular process. Previously known classes of longer noncoding RNAs were shown to function by every possible means-acting catalytically, sensing physiological states through adoption of complex secondary and tertiary structures, or using their primary sequences for recognition of target sites. The many recently discovered classes of small noncoding RNAs, generally less than 35 nucleotides in length, most often exert their effects by guiding regulatory complexes to targets via base-pairing. With the ability to analyze the RNA products of the genome in ever greater depth, it has become clear that the universe of noncoding RNAs may extend far beyond the boundaries we had previously imagined. Thus, as much as the Symposium highlighted exciting progress in the field, it also revealed how much farther we must go to understand fully the biological impact of noncoding RNAs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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