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Natural antisense transcripts: Sound or silence?

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Andreas Werner


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Antisense RNA was a rather uncommon term in a physiology environment until short interfering RNAs emerged as the tool of choice to knock down the expression of specific genes. As a consequence, the concept of RNA having regulatory potential became widely accepted. Yet, there is more to come. Computational studies suggest that between 15 and 25% of mammalian genes overlap, giving rise to pairs of sense and antisense RNAs. The resulting transcripts potentially interfere with each other's processing, thus representing examples of RNA-mediated gene regulation by endogenous, naturally occurring antisense transcripts. Concerns that the large-scale antisense transcription may represent transcriptional noise rather than a gene regulatory mechanism are strongly opposed by recent reports. A relatively small, well-defined group of antisense or noncoding transcripts is linked to monoallelic gene expression as observed in genomic imprinting, X chromosome inactivation, and clonal expression of B and T leukocytes. For the remaining, much larger group of bidirectionally transcribed genes, however, the physiological consequences of antisense transcription as well as the cellular mechanism(s) involved remain largely speculative. Copyright © 2005 the American Physiological Society.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Werner A, Berdal A

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: Physiological Genomics

Year: 2005

Volume: 23

Issue: 2

Pages: 125-131

ISSN (print): 1094-8341

ISSN (electronic): 1531-2267


DOI: 10.1152/physiolgenomics.00124.2005