No Longer Junk: Role of Long Noncoding RNAs in Autism Risk

Article ID: 615498

Released: 24-Mar-2014 11:00 AM EDT

Source Newsroom: Simons Foundation (

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Newswise — RNA acts as the intermediary between genes and proteins, but the function of pieces of RNA that do not code for protein has, historically, been less clear. Researchers have ignored these noncoding RNAs until recently for not complying with the central dogma of biology — that a straight line runs from gene to RNA (transcription) to protein (translation). However, noncoding RNAs are emerging as important regulators of diverse cellular processes with implications for numerous human disorders.

Extensive research has already examined the function of microRNAs, a category of small evolutionarily conserved noncoding RNAs about 22 to 24 nucleotides in length that target protein-coding genes in a sequence-specific manner. A plethora of microRNAs are important for brain function and neuropsychiatric diseases, including autism.

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