Special Issue "Non-Coding RNAs"
Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 October 2011)
Prof. Dr. Constantinos Stathopoulos
During recent years, a remarkable expansion of the “RNA world” members has been observed with the discovery and characterization of many elusive, so far, RNA molecules of various sizes and regulatory roles, in both eukaryotes and bacteria. In the dawn of this new RNA era, the term “non-coding RNAs” represents not only molecules such as tRNAs, rRNAs and snoRNAs, that cannot be translated into proteins. Instead, it additionally includes a variety of prominent RNA molecules that play distinct and critical roles within the cell. In eukaryotes, these novel members are represented by numerous microRNAs, siRNAs, piRNAs and long non-coding RNAs, that exhibit trans-acting antisense modulating properties. Today, we know that they modulate gene expression by interfering in post-transcriptional level. Moreover, RNA interference-based methodologies have provided the means of studying gene expression at a glance, both in vitro and in vivo, and they have emerged as very delicate and promising therapeutic strategies. In bacteria, the new members are represented by many regulatory RNAs of various sizes, which are also responsible for essential cellular responses. These key elements, can either be embedded in the 5’ end of mRNAs (i.e. riboswitches), they can be small RNAs that act in trans by targeting proteins or RNAs, they can be long antisense RNA modulators (CRISPR RNAs) or they may even have intrinsic activity (like RNase P ribozyme). Whatever their origin, size, structure or specific role, it is more than evident that non-coding RNAs represent a dynamic and expanding family of essential molecules, some of them with deep evolutionary history. Moreover, they are established as valuable novel tools with biotechnological applications or/and targets for combating disease or pathogens. Their discovery and study has great impact not only in the way we approach specific cellular processes today, but also in the way we understand the evolution of life itself.
- CRISPR RNA