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Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2013 Nov;14(11):699-712. doi: 10.1038/nrm3679. Epub 2013 Oct 9.

RNA in unexpected places: long non-coding RNA functions in diverse cellular contexts.

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1] Center for RNA Molecular Biology, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio 44106, USA. [2] Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering, Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH) Zürich, 4058 Basel, Switzerland.


The increased application of transcriptome-wide profiling approaches has led to an explosion in the number of documented long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs). While these new and enigmatic players in the complex transcriptional milieu are encoded by a significant proportion of the genome, their functions are mostly unknown. Early discoveries support a paradigm in which lncRNAs regulate transcription via chromatin modulation, but new functions are steadily emerging. Given the biochemical versatility of RNA, lncRNAs may be used for various tasks, including post-transcriptional regulation, organization of protein complexes, cell-cell signalling and allosteric regulation of proteins.

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