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Wiley Interdiscip Rev RNA. 2015 Jul-Aug;6(4):381-97. doi: 10.1002/wrna.1284. Epub 2015 Apr 16.

The emerging landscape of small nucleolar RNAs in cell biology.

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Biochemistry Department, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Canada.
Biochemistry Department and RNA Group, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Canada.


Small nucleolar RNAs (snoRNAs) are a large class of small noncoding RNAs present in all eukaryotes sequenced thus far. As a family, they have been well characterized as playing a central role in ribosome biogenesis, guiding either the sequence-specific chemical modification of pre-rRNA (ribosomal RNA) or its processing. However, in higher eukaryotes, numerous orphan snoRNAs were described over a decade ago, with no known target or ascribed function, suggesting the possibility of alternative cellular functionality. In recent years, thanks in great part to advances in sequencing methodologies, we have seen many examples of the diversity that exists in the snoRNA family on multiple levels. In this review, we discuss the identification of novel snoRNA members, of unexpected binding partners, as well as the clarification and extension of the snoRNA target space and the characterization of diverse new noncanonical functions, painting a new and extended picture of the snoRNA landscape. Under the deluge of novel features and functions that have recently come to light, snoRNAs emerge as a central, dynamic, and highly versatile group of small regulatory RNAs.

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