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Biochem Cell Biol. 2009 Oct;87(5):767-79. doi: 10.1139/O09-043.

Life without RNAi: noncoding RNAs and their functions in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

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Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alaska Anchorage, 3211 Providence Dr., Anchorage, AK 99508, USA.


There are a number of well-characterized and fundamental roles for noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs) in gene regulation in all kingdoms of life. ncRNAs, such as ribosomal RNAs, transfer RNAs, small nuclear RNAs, small nucleolar RNAs, and small interfering RNAs, can serve catalytic and scaffolding functions in transcription, messenger RNA processing, translation, and RNA degradation. Recently, our understanding of gene expression has been dramatically challenged by the identification of large and diverse populations of novel ncRNAs in the eukaryotic genomes surveyed thus far. Studies carried out using the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae indicate that at least some coding genes are regulated by these novel ncRNAs. S. cerevisiae lacks RNA interference (RNAi) and, thus, provides an ideal system for studying the RNAi-independent mechanisms of ncRNA-based gene regulation. The current picture of gene regulation is one of great unknowns, in which the transcriptional environment surrounding a given locus may have as much to do with its regulation as its DNA sequence or local chromatin structure. Drawing on the recent research in S. cerevisiae and other organisms, this review will discuss the identification of ncRNAs, their origins and processing, and several models that incorporate ncRNAs into the regulation of gene expression and chromatin structure.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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