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Nucleic Acids Res. 1997 Sep 15;25(18):3580-3.

Making (anti)sense of non-coding sequence conservation.

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National Center for Biotechnology Information, National Library of Medicine, NIH, Building 38A 8N803, 8600 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20894, USA.


A substantial fraction of vertebrate mRNAs contain long conserved blocks in their untranslated regions as well as long blocks without silent changes in their protein coding regions. These conserved blocks are largely comprised of unique sequence within the genome, leaving us with an important puzzle regarding their function. A large body of experimental data shows that these regions are associated with regulation of mRNA stability. Combining this information with the rapidly accumulating data on endogenous antisense transcripts, we propose that the conserved sequences form long perfect duplexes with antisense transcripts. The formation of such duplexes may be essential for recognition by post-transcriptional regulatory systems. The conservation may then be explained by selection against the dominant negative effect of allelic divergence.

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