Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2013, 14(8), 16010-16039; doi:10.3390/ijms140816010
Review

Non-Coding RNAs: Multi-Tasking Molecules in the Cell

1 Health Technology College of Lisbon—Polytechnic Institute of Lisbon, 1990-096 Lisbon, Portugal 2 Institute of Molecular Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Lisbon, 1649-028 Lisbon, Portugal 3 Gulbenkian Science Institute, 2780-256 Oeiras, Portugal 4 Interdisciplinary Centre of Research in Animal Health (CIISA), Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, 1300-666 Lisbon, Portugal 5 Center for Chemistry and Biochemistry, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Faculty of Sciences, University of Lisbon, 1749-016 Lisbon, Portugal
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 7 June 2013; in revised form: 15 July 2013 / Accepted: 19 July 2013 / Published: 31 July 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Regulation by non-coding RNAs)
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Abstract: In the last years it has become increasingly clear that the mammalian transcriptome is highly complex and includes a large number of small non-coding RNAs (sncRNAs) and long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs). Here we review the biogenesis pathways of the three classes of sncRNAs, namely short interfering RNAs (siRNAs), microRNAs (miRNAs) and PIWI-interacting RNAs (piRNAs). These ncRNAs have been extensively studied and are involved in pathways leading to specific gene silencing and the protection of genomes against virus and transposons, for example. Also, lncRNAs have emerged as pivotal molecules for the transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression which is supported by their tissue-specific expression patterns, subcellular distribution, and developmental regulation. Therefore, we also focus our attention on their role in differentiation and development. SncRNAs and lncRNAs play critical roles in defining DNA methylation patterns, as well as chromatin remodeling thus having a substantial effect in epigenetics. The identification of some overlaps in their biogenesis pathways and functional roles raises the hypothesis that these molecules play concerted functions in vivo, creating complex regulatory networks where cooperation with regulatory proteins is necessary. We also highlighted the implications of biogenesis and gene expression deregulation of sncRNAs and lncRNAs in human diseases like cancer.
Keywords: sncRNAs; lncRNAs; miRNAs; siRNAs; piRNAs; gene expression regulation; epigenetic regulation

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MDPI and ACS Style

Gomes, A.Q.; Nolasco, S.; Soares, H. Non-Coding RNAs: Multi-Tasking Molecules in the Cell. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2013, 14, 16010-16039.

AMA Style

Gomes AQ, Nolasco S, Soares H. Non-Coding RNAs: Multi-Tasking Molecules in the Cell. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2013; 14(8):16010-16039.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Gomes, Anita Q.; Nolasco, Sofia; Soares, Helena. 2013. "Non-Coding RNAs: Multi-Tasking Molecules in the Cell." Int. J. Mol. Sci. 14, no. 8: 16010-16039.

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