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Gene regulation in the immune system by long noncoding RNAs

Abstract

Long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) are emerging as critical regulators of gene expression in the immune system. Studies have shown that lncRNAs are expressed in a highly lineage-specific manner and control the differentiation and function of innate and adaptive cell types. In this Review, we focus on mechanisms used by lncRNAs to regulate genes encoding products involved in the immune response, including direct interactions with chromatin, RNA and proteins. In addition, we address new areas of lncRNA biology, such as the functions of enhancer RNAs, circular RNAs and chemical modifications to RNA in cellular processes. We emphasize critical gaps in knowledge and future prospects for the roles of lncRNAs in the immune system and autoimmune disease.

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Figure 1: General lncRNA mechanism.
Figure 2: lncRNAs in the differentiation and function of immune cells.
Figure 3: New mechanisms: RNA modification and circular RNA.

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Acknowledgements

We thank members of the Chang laboratory for discussions, and J. Tumey for figure artwork. Supported by the US National Institutes of Health (P50HG007735), the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, the Scleroderma Research Foundation (H.Y.C.) and the Cancer Research Institute (Irvington Fellowship to A.T.S.).

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Correspondence to Howard Y Chang.

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H.Y.C. is a founder of Epinomics and a member of its scientific advisory board.

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Chen, Y., Satpathy, A. & Chang, H. Gene regulation in the immune system by long noncoding RNAs. Nat Immunol 18, 962–972 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1038/ni.3771

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