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Soaking up the Competition – Circular RNAs as Molecular Sponges for miRNAs

Numerous families of non-coding RNAs have been identified in mammalian cells, including lncRNA, miRNA, siRNA, and piRNA.  Another type of RNA called circular RNA (circRNA) has remained a mysterious class, as the exact function of these molecules has not been described. Usually, circRNAs result from spicing events and have been …

Jeannie Lee lncRNA

Reviewing the Roles of Long noncoding RNAs in Epigenetic Processes

Although RNA has traditionally been thought to act primarily as an intermediate between DNA and protein in the central dogma of molecular biology, these important molecules have received more attention in the last few years for their ability to carry out a wide variety of biological processes, including epigenetic regulation …


The Importance of Epigenetic Modification of RNA in miRNA Maturation and Breast Cancer

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are single-stranded RNA molecules 18-24 bases in length that are important for the regulation of many biological processes by posttranscriptionally interfering with gene expression.   MiRNAs generally regulate gene expression by either facilitating mRNA degradation or repressing translation.  Generation of the mature and active form of miRNAs requires the …


I’ll See Your Double Helix and Raise You One!

RNA generally undergoes extensive processing following transcription (or co-transcriptionally), and these processing events are both tightly regulated and critical for the function and stability of the RNA molecule.  Some common types of RNA processing are 5’ end capping, splicing, and polyadenylation of the 3’ end of the transcript.  Polyadenylation of …


Role Reversal: Are Transcription Factors Responsible for Heterochromatin Formation?

Regions of eukaryotic chromosomes are classified into two distinct groups: euchromatin, which is generally less compacted and contains actively transcribed genes, and heterochromatin, which is typically more compacted and contains silent genes and the majority of the repeated DNA elements.  Transcription factors are generally thought of as proteins that are …


Epigenetic Regulation is Involved in Host Antiviral Defense Mechanisms

Influenza is the virus that causes the flu, and can result in serious, sometimes fatal infections.  Influenza virus is easily transmitted within a population raising concerns of it causing an epidemic, or worse, a pandemic.  In recent years, the highly pathogenic H5N1 and H1N1 viruses have caused thousands of deaths …

Brown Mouse

RNA methylation recently found to be a widespread epigenetic modification

DNA methylation is one of the most important and most intensively studied areas of epigenetic regulation.  However, there is not much known about the methylation of RNA molecules and whether RNA methylation is an epigenetic mechanism to regulate gene expression or other cellular processes.  RNA can be methylated at the …

Skeletal muscles affected by FSHD

Epigenetic regulation of a non-coding RNA implicated in FSHD pathogenesis

Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) is a common and debilitating myopathy very frequently associated with decreased D4Z4 repetitive element copy number at chromosome 4q35. The exact molecular mechanism driving FSHD is unknown, however, epigenetic dysregulation is suspected to be a major contributing factor.