LncRNAs: the bridge linking RNA and colorectal cancer
SIGNIFICANCE The well-studied sequences in the human genome are those of protein-coding genes, which account for only 1%-2% of the total genome. However, with the advent of high-throughput transcriptome sequencing technology, we now know that about 90% of our genome is extensively transcribed and that the vast majority of them are transcribed into noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs). It is of great interest and importance to decipher the functions of these ncRNAs in humans. RECENT ADVANCES In the last decade, it has become apparent that ncRNAs play a crucial role in regulating gene expression in normal development, in stress responses to internal and environmental stimuli, and in human diseases. CRITICAL ISSUES In addition to those constitutively expressed structural RNA, such as ribosomal and transfer RNAs, regulatory ncRNAs can be classified as microRNAs (miRNAs), Piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs), small interfering RNAs (siRNAs), small nucleolar RNAs (snoRNAs), and long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs). However, little is known about the biological features and functional roles of these ncRNAs in DNA repair and genome instability, although a number of miRNAs and lncRNAs are regulated in the DNA damage response. FUTURE DIRECTIONS A major goal of modern biology is to identify and characterize the full profile of ncRNAs with regard to normal physiological functions and roles in human disorders. Clinically relevant ncRNAs will also be evaluated and targeted in therapeutic applications.