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Nucleic Acids Res. 2008 Sep;36(15):4833-44. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkn470. Epub 2008 Jul 24.

Trans-natural antisense transcripts including noncoding RNAs in 10 species: implications for expression regulation.

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Center for Bioinformatics, National Laboratory of Protein Engineering and Plant Genetic Engineering, College of Life Sciences, Peking University, Beijing, 100871, PR China.


Natural antisense transcripts are at least partially complementary to their sense transcripts. Cis-Sense/Antisense pairs (cis-SAs) have been extensively characterized and known to play diverse regulatory roles, whereas trans-Sense/Antisense pairs (trans-SAs) in animals are poorly studied. We identified long trans-SAs in human and nine other animals, using ESTs to increase coverage significantly over previous studies. The percentage of transcriptional units (TUs) involved in trans-SAs among all TUs was as high as 4.13%. Particularly 2896 human TUs (or 2.89% of all human TUs) were involved in 3327 trans-SAs. Sequence complementarities over multiple segments with predicted RNA hybridization indicated that some trans-SAs might have sophisticated RNA-RNA pairing patterns. One-fourth of human trans-SAs involved noncoding TUs, suggesting that many noncoding RNAs may function by a trans-acting antisense mechanism. TUs in trans-SAs were statistically significantly enriched in nucleic acid binding, ion/protein binding and transport and signal transduction functions and pathways; a significant number of human trans-SAs showed concordant or reciprocal expression pattern; a significant number of human trans-SAs were conserved in mouse. This evidence suggests important regulatory functions of trans-SAs. In 30 cases, trans-SAs were related to cis-SAs through paralogues, suggesting a possible mechanism for the origin of trans-SAs. All trans-SAs are available at

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