Long non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) are emerging as important regulatory factors in mammalian genomics. A number of reports within the last 2 years have identified thousands of actively expressed long ncRNA transcripts with distinct properties. The long ncRNAs show differential expression patterns and regulation in a wide variety of cells and tissues, adding significant complexity to the understanding of their biological role. Furthermore, genome-wide studies of transcriptional enhancers based on chromatin modifications and enhancer binding proteins have led to the identification of putative enhancers and provided insight into their tissue-specific regulation of gene expression. In an exciting turn of events, new evidence is indicating that long ncRNAs are associated with enhancer regions and that such non-coding transcription correlate with the increased activity of the neighboring genes. Moreover, additional experiments suggest that enhancer-function can be mediated through a transcribed long ncRNA and that this might be a common function for long ncRNAs. Here, we review recent advances made both in the genome-wide characterization of enhancers and in the identification of new classes of long ncRNAs, and discuss the functional overlap of these two classes of regulatory elements.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental Biology