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Epigenetics. 2011 May;6(5):539-43. Epub 2011 May 1.

RNA templating the epigenome: long noncoding RNAs as molecular scaffolds.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Program in Epithelial Biology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA.


Cellular pathways must be synergized, controlled and organized to manage homeostasis. To achieve high selectivity within the crowded cellular milieu the cell utilizes scaffolding complexes whose role is to bring molecules in proximity thereby controlling and enhancing intermolecular interactions and signaling events. To date, scaffolds have been shown to be composed of proteinaceous units; however, recent evidence has supported the idea that non-coding RNAs may also play a similar role. In this point of view article we discuss recent data on ncRNA scaffolds, with particular focus on ncRNA HOTAIR. Using our current knowledge of signaling networks we discuss the role that RNA may play in writing and regulating histone modifications and the information needed for correct gene expression. Further, we speculate on additional, yet undiscovered roles that ncRNAs may be playing as molecular scaffolds.

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