Non-coding antisense transcripts arise from the strand opposite the sense strand. Over 70% of the human genome generates non-coding antisense transcripts while less than 2% of the genome codes for proteins. Antisense transcripts and/or the act of antisense transcription regulate gene expression and genome integrity by interfering with sense transcription and modulating histone modifications or DNA methylation. Hence, they have significant pathological and physiological relevance. Indeed, antisense transcripts were found to be associated with various diseases including cancer, diabetes, cardiac and neurodegenerative disorders, and, thus, have promising potentials for prognostic and diagnostic markers and therapeutic development. However, it is not clearly understood how antisense transcription is initiated and epigenetically regulated. Such knowledge would provide new insights into the regulation of antisense transcription, and hence disease pathogenesis with therapeutic development. The recent studies on antisense transcription initiation and its epigenetic regulation, which are limited, are discussed here. Furthermore, we concisely describe how antisense transcription/transcripts regulate gene expression and genome integrity with implications in disease pathogenesis and therapeutic development.
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