The extraordinary cellular diversity and the complex connections established within different cells types render the nervous system of vertebrates one of the most sophisticated tissues found in living organisms. Such complexity is ensured by numerous regulatory mechanisms that provide tight spatiotemporal control, robustness and reliability. While the unusual abundance of long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) in nervous tissues was traditionally puzzling, it is becoming clear that these molecules have genuine regulatory functions in the brain and they are essential for neuronal physiology. The canonical view of RNA as predominantly a 'coding molecule' has been largely surpassed, together with the conception that lncRNAs only represent 'waste material' produced by cells as a side effect of pervasive transcription. Here we review a growing body of evidence showing that lncRNAs play key roles in several regulatory mechanisms of neurons and other brain cells. In particular, neuronal lncRNAs are crucial for orchestrating neurogenesis, for tuning neuronal differentiation and for the exact calibration of neuronal excitability. Moreover, their diversity and the association to neurodegenerative diseases render them particularly interesting as putative biomarkers for brain disease. Overall, we foresee that in the future a more systematic scrutiny of lncRNA functions will be instrumental for an exhaustive understanding of neuronal pathophysiology.

Brain Long Noncoding RNAs: Multitask Regulators of Neuronal Differentiation and Function

Fornasiero, Eugenio
2021-01-01

Abstract

The extraordinary cellular diversity and the complex connections established within different cells types render the nervous system of vertebrates one of the most sophisticated tissues found in living organisms. Such complexity is ensured by numerous regulatory mechanisms that provide tight spatiotemporal control, robustness and reliability. While the unusual abundance of long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) in nervous tissues was traditionally puzzling, it is becoming clear that these molecules have genuine regulatory functions in the brain and they are essential for neuronal physiology. The canonical view of RNA as predominantly a 'coding molecule' has been largely surpassed, together with the conception that lncRNAs only represent 'waste material' produced by cells as a side effect of pervasive transcription. Here we review a growing body of evidence showing that lncRNAs play key roles in several regulatory mechanisms of neurons and other brain cells. In particular, neuronal lncRNAs are crucial for orchestrating neurogenesis, for tuning neuronal differentiation and for the exact calibration of neuronal excitability. Moreover, their diversity and the association to neurodegenerative diseases render them particularly interesting as putative biomarkers for brain disease. Overall, we foresee that in the future a more systematic scrutiny of lncRNA functions will be instrumental for an exhaustive understanding of neuronal pathophysiology.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11368/3047486
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