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Mol Cell. 2019 Mar 7;73(5):869-883. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2019.02.008.

Global Positioning System: Understanding Long Noncoding RNAs through Subcellular Localization.

Author information

1
Department of Medical Oncology, Inselspital, Bern University Hospital, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland; Department for BioMedical Research, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland.
2
Department of Medical Oncology, Inselspital, Bern University Hospital, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland; Department for BioMedical Research, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland. Electronic address: rory.johnson@dbmr.unibe.ch.

Abstract

The localization of long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) within the cell is the primary determinant of their molecular functions. LncRNAs are often thought of as chromatin-restricted regulators of gene transcription and chromatin structure. However, a rich population of cytoplasmic lncRNAs has come to light, with diverse roles including translational regulation, signaling, and respiration. RNA maps of increasing resolution and scope are revealing a subcellular world of highly specific localization patterns and hint at sequence-based address codes specifying lncRNA fates. We propose a new framework for analyzing sequencing-based data, which suggests that numbers of cytoplasmic lncRNA molecules rival those in the nucleus. New techniques promise to create high-resolution, transcriptome-wide maps associated with all organelles of the mammalian cell. Given its intimate link to molecular roles, subcellular localization provides a means of unlocking the mystery of lncRNA functions.

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