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RNA. 2018 Jul;24(7):950-965. doi: 10.1261/rna.064493.117. Epub 2018 Apr 27.

Simultaneous sequencing of coding and noncoding RNA reveals a human transcriptome dominated by a small number of highly expressed noncoding genes.

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Département de biochimie, Faculté de médecine et des sciences de la santé, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Québec J1E 4K8, Canada.
Département de microbiologie et d'infectiologie, Faculté de médecine et des sciences de la santé, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Québec J1E 4K8, Canada.
Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology and Department of Molecular Biosciences, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas 78712, USA.


Comparing the abundance of one RNA molecule to another is crucial for understanding cellular functions but most sequencing techniques can target only specific subsets of RNA. In this study, we used a new fragmented ribodepleted TGIRT sequencing method that uses a thermostable group II intron reverse transcriptase (TGIRT) to generate a portrait of the human transcriptome depicting the quantitative relationship of all classes of nonribosomal RNA longer than 60 nt. Comparison between different sequencing methods indicated that FRT is more accurate in ranking both mRNA and noncoding RNA than viral reverse transcriptase-based sequencing methods, even those that specifically target these species. Measurements of RNA abundance in different cell lines using this method correlate with biochemical estimates, confirming tRNA as the most abundant nonribosomal RNA biotype. However, the single most abundant transcript is 7SL RNA, a component of the signal recognition particle. Structured noncoding RNAs (sncRNAs) associated with the same biological process are expressed at similar levels, with the exception of RNAs with multiple functions like U1 snRNA. In general, sncRNAs forming RNPs are hundreds to thousands of times more abundant than their mRNA counterparts. Surprisingly, only 50 sncRNA genes produce half of the non-rRNA transcripts detected in two different cell lines. Together the results indicate that the human transcriptome is dominated by a small number of highly expressed sncRNAs specializing in functions related to translation and splicing.


RNA detection; high-throughput sequencing; noncoding RNA; snoRNA; thermostable group II intron reverse transcriptase; transcriptome analysis

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