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Cell Mol Life Sci. 2012 Nov;69(21):3613-34. doi: 10.1007/s00018-012-0990-9. Epub 2012 Apr 27.

Regulation of eukaryotic gene expression by the untranslated gene regions and other non-coding elements.

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Centre for Neuromuscular and Neurological Disorders (CNND), The University of Western Australia (M518), 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia.


There is now compelling evidence that the complexity of higher organisms correlates with the relative amount of non-coding RNA rather than the number of protein-coding genes. Previously dismissed as "junk DNA", it is the non-coding regions of the genome that are responsible for regulation, facilitating complex temporal and spatial gene expression through the combinatorial effect of numerous mechanisms and interactions working together to fine-tune gene expression. The major regions involved in regulation of a particular gene are the 5' and 3' untranslated regions and introns. In addition, pervasive transcription of complex genomes produces a variety of non-coding transcripts that interact with these regions and contribute to regulation. This review discusses recent insights into the regulatory roles of the untranslated gene regions and non-coding RNAs in the control of complex gene expression, as well as the implications of this in terms of organism complexity and evolution.

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