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18.02.19 Miska lab identify hundreds of new non-coding RNAs and prove biological activity in several

last modified Mar 01, 2019 03:41 PM
C elegans is the model of choice for identifying long non-coding RNAs and investigating whether their deletion has biological effects. The Miska lab, with the Earlham Institute, find several that affect growth and fertility.

Identification of functional long non-coding RNAs in C. elegans

Akay A et al. (2019) BMC Biology 17:14. DOI: 10.1186/s12915-019-0635-7.


Abstract from the paper


Functional characterisation of the compact genome of the model organism Caenorhabditis elegans remains incomplete despite its sequencing 20 years ago. The last decade of research has seen a tremendous increase in the number of non-coding RNAs identified in various organisms. While we have mechanistic understandings of small non-coding RNA pathways, long non-coding RNAs represent a diverse class of active transcripts whose function remains less well characterised.

Akay worms WT vs lnc

Deletion mutant for RNA linc-239 is smaller than wild type



By analysing hundreds of published transcriptome datasets, we annotated 3392 potential lncRNAs including 143 multi-exonic loci that showed increased nucleotide conservation and GC content relative to other non-coding regions. Using CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing, we generated deletion mutants for ten long non-coding RNA loci. Using automated microscopy for in-depth phenotyping, we show that six of the long non-coding RNA loci are required for normal development and fertility. Using RNA interference-mediated gene knock-down, we provide evidence that for two of the long non-coding RNA loci, the observed phenotypes are dependent on the corresponding RNA transcripts.


Our results highlight that a large section of the non-coding regions of the C. elegans genome remains unexplored. Based on our in vivo analysis of a selection of high-confidence lncRNA loci, we expect that a significant proportion of these high-confidence regions is likely to have a biological function at either the genomic or the transcript level.


Read more about research in the Miska lab.

Watch Eric Miska talk about his research on the RNA world.

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Studying development to understand disease

The Gurdon Institute is funded by Wellcome and Cancer Research UK to study the biology of development, and how normal growth and maintenance go wrong in cancer and other diseases.

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