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Eukaryote genomes encode a surprisingly large number of noncoding transcripts. Around two-thirds of human transcribed loci do not encode protein, and many are intergenic and produce long (>200 nucleotides) noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs). Extensive analyses using comparative genomics and transcriptomics approaches have established that lncRNA sequence and transcription tend to turn over rapidly during evolution. Our appreciation of the biological roles of lncRNAs, based only on a handful of transcripts with well-characterized functions, is that lncRNAs have diverse roles in regulating gene expression. These proposed roles together with their rapid rates of evolution suggest that lncRNAs could contribute to the divergent expression patterns observed among species and potentially to the origin of new traits.

Original publication




Journal article


Curr Opin Genet Dev

Publication Date





48 - 53


Animals, Evolution, Molecular, Gene Expression, Genetic Variation, Humans, Phenotype, RNA, Long Noncoding