‘Junk DNA’ no more? Most long non-coding RNA likely functional, study finds
Kerry Grens| Scientist | March 21, 2017

Researchers have now catalogued nearly 28,000 long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) present in human cells, and found that roughly 20,000 are likely functional. The study, published yesterday (March 1) in Nature, also suggests that about 2,000 lncRNAs are associated with diseases.

“There is strong debate in the scientific community on whether the thousands of long non-coding RNAs generated from our genomes are functional or simply byproducts of a noisy transcriptional machinery,” coauthor Alistair Forrest, a genomicist at the University of Western Australia and a visiting scientist at the RIKEN Center for Life Science Technologies, said in a press release. “By integrating the improved gene models with data from gene expression, evolutionary conservation and genetic studies, we find compelling evidence that the majority of these long non-coding RNAs appear to be functional.”

Forrest’s team used 1,829 human samples to build the lncRNA atlas, which is available for researchers to probe genetic and cell-type information.

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