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Non-coding RNA

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A non-coding RNA (ncRNA) is a functional RNA molecule which is not translated into a protein. Less-used synonyms are non-protein-coding RNA (npcRNA), non-messenger RNA (nmRNA) and functional RNA (fRNA). The term small RNA (sRNA) is often used for short bacterial ncRNAs. The DNA sequence from which a non-coding RNA is transcribed is often called an 'RNA gene'.

Non-coding RNA genes include abundant and important RNAs such as transfer RNA (tRNA) and ribosomal RNA (rRNA); also RNAs such as snoRNAs, microRNAs, siRNAs, snRNAs, exRNAs, and piRNAs and the long noncoding RNAs (long ncRNAs). The number of ncRNAs in the human genome is unknown. However recent studies suggest the existence of thousands of ncRNAs.[1][2][3][4], but see [5] Since the function of newly identified ncRNAs has not been proved, it is possible that many are non-functional.[6]

The first non-coding RNA to be analysed was an alanine tRNA found in baker's yeast. Its structure was published in 1965.[7]


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  2. ENCODE Project ConsortiumExpression error: Unrecognized word "etal". (2007). "Identification and analysis of functional elements in 1% of the human genome by the ENCODE pilot project". Nature 447 (7146): 799–816. doi:10.1038/nature05874 . PMID 17571346 . 
  3. Washietl S (2007). "Structured RNAs in the ENCODE selected regions of the human genome". Genome Res 17 (6): 852–64. doi:10.1101/gr.5650707 . PMC 1891344 . PMID 17568003 . 
  4. Morris K.V. (ed) 2012. Non-coding RNAs and epigenetic regulation of gene expression: drivers of natural selection. Caister Academic Press. ISBN 978-1-904455-94-3 . 
  5. van Bakel H (2010). Eddy, Sean R.. ed. "Most "dark matter" transcripts are associated with known genes". PLoS Biol 8 (5): e1000371. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1000371 . PMC 2872640 . PMID 20502517 . 
  6. Hüttenhofer A; Schattner P. & Polacek N (2005). "Non-coding RNAs: hope or hype?". Trends Genet 21 (5): 289–97. doi:10.1016/j.tig.2005.03.007 . PMID 15851066 . 
  7. Holley R.W. (1965). "Structure of a riboucleic acid". Science 147 (3664): 1462–5. doi:10.1126/science.147.3664.1462 . PMID 14263761 . Retrieved 2010-09-03.