Mini Review ARTICLE

Front. Genet., 09 January 2012 |

The long non-coding RNAs: a new (p)layer in the “dark matter”

  • 1 Bioinformatics and Genomics, Centre for Genomic Regulation, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain
  • 2 Departament de Ciències Experimentals i de la Salut, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain

The transcriptome of a cell is represented by a myriad of different RNA molecules with and without protein-coding capacities. In recent years, advances in sequencing technologies have allowed researchers to more fully appreciate the complexity of whole transcriptomes, showing that the vast majority of the genome is transcribed, producing a diverse population of non-protein coding RNAs (ncRNAs). Thus, the biological significance of non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) have been largely underestimated. Amongst these multiple classes of ncRNAs, the long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) are apparently the most numerous and functionally diverse. A small but growing number of lncRNAs have been experimentally studied, and a view is emerging that these are key regulators of epigenetic gene regulation in mammalian cells. LncRNAs have already been implicated in human diseases such as cancer and neurodegeneration, highlighting the importance of this emergent field. In this article, we review the catalogs of annotated lncRNAs and the latest advances in our understanding of lncRNAs.

Keywords: non-coding RNAs, regulation, long non-coding RNA, epigenetics

Citation: Derrien T, Guigó R and Johnson R (2012) The long non-coding RNAs: a new (p)layer in the “dark matter”. Front. Gene. 2:107. doi: 10.3389/fgene.2011.00107

Received: 06 September 2011; Accepted: 21 December 2011;
Published online: 09 January 2012.

Edited by:

Philipp Kapranov, St. Laurent Institute, USA

Reviewed by:

Yohei Kirino, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, USA
Chris Ponting, MRC Functional Genomics Unit, UK

Copyright: © 2012 Derrien, Guigó and Johnson. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial License, which permits non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited.

*Correspondence: Thomas Derrien, Bioinformatics and Genomics Group, Centre for Genomic Regulation, Biomedical Research Park of Barcelona, C. Dr. Aiguader 88, Barcelona 08003, Spain. e-mail: