It is clear that RNA has a diverse set of functions and is more than just a messenger between gene and protein. The mammalian genome is extensively transcribed, giving rise to thousands of non-coding transcripts. Whether all of these transcripts are functional is debated, but it is evident that there are many functional large non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs). Recent studies have begun to explore the functional diversity and mechanistic role of these large ncRNAs. Here we synthesize these studies to provide an emerging model whereby large ncRNAs might achieve regulatory specificity through modularity, assembling diverse combinations of proteins and possibly RNA and DNA interactions.
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We thank M. Cabili, J. Engreitz, M. Garber, P. McDonel and A. Pauli for their reading and suggestions; T. Cech for comments and suggestions; E. Lander for helpful discussions and ideas; and S. Knemeyer and L. Gaffney for assistance with figures in this Review.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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Guttman, M., Rinn, J. Modular regulatory principles of large non-coding RNAs. Nature 482, 339–346 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature10887