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Front Physiol. 2014 Apr 22;5:155. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2014.00155. eCollection 2014.

Recent advances in the involvement of long non-coding RNAs in neural stem cell biology and brain pathophysiology.

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Center for Basic Research, Biomedical Research Foundation of the Academy of Athens Athens, Greece.


Exploration of non-coding genome has recently uncovered a growing list of formerly unknown regulatory long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) with important functions in stem cell pluripotency, development and homeostasis of several tissues. Although thousands of lncRNAs are expressed in mammalian brain in a highly patterned manner, their roles in brain development have just begun to emerge. Recent data suggest key roles for these molecules in gene regulatory networks controlling neuronal and glial cell differentiation. Analysis of the genomic distribution of genes encoding for lncRNAs indicates a physical association of these regulatory RNAs with transcription factors (TFs) with well-established roles in neural differentiation, suggesting that lncRNAs and TFs may form coherent regulatory networks with important functions in neural stem cells (NSCs). Additionally, many studies show that lncRNAs are involved in the pathophysiology of brain-related diseases/disorders. Here we discuss these observations and investigate the links between lncRNAs, brain development and brain-related diseases. Understanding the functions of lncRNAs in NSCs and brain organogenesis could revolutionize the basic principles of developmental biology and neuroscience.


brain-related diseases; gene regulatory networks; gliogenesis; neural differentiation; neurogenesis; non-coding genome; regulatory RNAs

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