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Concept: Non-coding RNA

193

Sepsis is a common cause of death in the intensive care unit with mortality up to 70% when accompanied by multiple organ dysfunction. Rapid diagnosis and the institution of appropriate antibiotic therapy and pressor support are therefore critical for survival. MicroRNAs are small non-coding RNAs that play an important role in the regulation of numerous cellular processes, including inflammation and immunity.

Concepts: DNA, Bacteria, RNA, Intensive care medicine, Sociology, Multiple organ dysfunction syndrome, Non-coding RNA, Sepsis

177

Evolutionarily conserved RNA secondary structures are a robust indicator of purifying selection and, consequently, molecular function. Evaluating their genome-wide occurrence through comparative genomics has consistently been plagued by high false-positive rates and divergent predictions. We present a novel benchmarking pipeline aimed at calibrating the precision of genome-wide scans for consensus RNA structure prediction. The benchmarking data obtained from two refined structure prediction algorithms, RNAz and SISSIz, were then analyzed to fine-tune the parameters of an optimized workflow for genomic sliding window screens. When applied to consistency-based multiple genome alignments of 35 mammals, our approach confidently identifies >4 million evolutionarily constrained RNA structures using a conservative sensitivity threshold that entails historically low false discovery rates for such analyses (5-22%). These predictions comprise 13.6% of the human genome, 88% of which fall outside any known sequence-constrained element, suggesting that a large proportion of the mammalian genome is functional. As an example, our findings identify both known and novel conserved RNA structure motifs in the long noncoding RNA MALAT1. This study provides an extensive set of functional transcriptomic annotations that will assist researchers in uncovering the precise mechanisms underlying the developmental ontologies of higher eukaryotes.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Human Genome Project, Genome, RNA, Genomics, Non-coding RNA

176

Here, we present LNCipedia (http://www.lncipedia.org), a novel database for human long non-coding RNA (lncRNA) transcripts and genes. LncRNAs constitute a large and diverse class of non-coding RNA genes. Although several lncRNAs have been functionally annotated, the majority remains to be characterized. Different high-throughput methods to identify new lncRNAs (including RNA sequencing and annotation of chromatin-state maps) have been applied in various studies resulting in multiple unrelated lncRNA data sets. LNCipedia offers 21 488 annotated human lncRNA transcripts obtained from different sources. In addition to basic transcript information and gene structure, several statistics are determined for each entry in the database, such as secondary structure information, protein coding potential and microRNA binding sites. Our analyses suggest that, much like microRNAs, many lncRNAs have a significant secondary structure, in-line with their presumed association with proteins or protein complexes. Available literature on specific lncRNAs is linked, and users or authors can submit articles through a web interface. Protein coding potential is assessed by two different prediction algorithms: Coding Potential Calculator and HMMER. In addition, a novel strategy has been integrated for detecting potentially coding lncRNAs by automatically re-analysing the large body of publicly available mass spectrometry data in the PRIDE database. LNCipedia is publicly available and allows users to query and download lncRNA sequences and structures based on different search criteria. The database may serve as a resource to initiate small- and large-scale lncRNA studies. As an example, the LNCipedia content was used to develop a custom microarray for expression profiling of all available lncRNAs.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Gene, Transcription, Amino acid, Molecular biology, RNA, Non-coding RNA

172

Centenarians exhibit extreme longevity and a remarkable compression of morbidity. They have a unique capacity to maintain homeostatic mechanisms. Since small non-coding RNAs (including microRNAs) are implicated in the regulation of gene expression, we hypothesised that longevity of centenarians may reflect alterations in small non-coding RNA expression. We report the first comparison of microRNAs expression profiles in mononuclear cells from centenarians, octogenarians and young individuals resident near Valencia, Spain. Principal Component Analysis of the expression of 15,644 mature microRNAs and, 2,334 snoRNAs and scaRNAs in centenarians revealed a significant overlap with profiles in young individuals but not with octogenarians and a significant up-regulation of 7 small non-coding RNAs in centenarians compared to young persons and notably 102 small non-coding RNAs when compared with octogenarians. We suggest that the small non-coding RNAs signature in centenarians may provide insights into the underlying molecular mechanisms endowing centenarians with extreme longevity.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Gene expression, Molecular biology, RNA, Regulation of gene expression, Non-coding RNA, RNA splicing

172

A report on the Keystone symposium ‘Non-coding RNAs’ held at Snowbird, Utah, USA, 31 March to 5 April 2012.

Concepts: DNA, RNA, Non-coding RNA, Transfer RNA, Long noncoding RNA, Xist

171

Recent genome-wide computational screens that search for conservation of RNA secondary structure in whole genome alignments (WGAs) have predicted thousands of structural noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs). The sensitivity of such approaches, however, is limited due to their reliance on sequence-based whole-genome aligners, which regularly misalign structural ncRNAs. This suggests that many more structural ncRNAs may remain undetected. Structure-based alignment, which could increase the sensitivity, has been prohibitive for genome-wide screens due to its extreme computational costs. Breaking this barrier, we present the pipeline REAPR (RE-Alignment for Prediction of structural ncRNA), which efficiently realigns whole genomes based on RNA sequence and structure, thus allowing us to boost the performance of de novo ncRNA predictors, such as RNAz. Key to the pipeline’s efficiency is the development of a novel banding technique for multiple RNA alignment. REAPR significantly outperforms the widely-used predictors RNAz and EvoFold in genome-wide screens; in direct comparison to the most recent RNAz screen on D. melanogaster, REAPR predicts twice as many high-confidence ncRNA candidates. Moreover, modEncode RNA-Seq experiments confirm a substantial number of its predictions as transcripts. REAPR’s advancement of de novo structural characterization of ncRNAs complements the identification of transcripts from rapidly accumulating RNA-Seq data.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genome, RNA, Prediction, Non-coding RNA, Transfer RNA, Long noncoding RNA

170

Computational analysis of cDNA sequences from multiple organisms suggests that a large portion of transcribed DNA does not code for a functional protein. In mammals, noncoding transcription is abundant, and often results in functional RNA molecules that do not appear to encode proteins. Many long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) appear to have epigenetic regulatory function in humans, including HOTAIR and XIST. While epigenetic gene regulation is clearly an essential mechanism in plants, relatively little is known about the presence or function of lncRNAs in plants.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Gene, Gene expression, Transcription, Virus, RNA, Non-coding RNA

169

More and more evidences demonstrate that the long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) play many key roles in diverse biological processes. There is a critical need to annotate the functions of increasing available lncRNAs. In this article, we try to apply a global network-based strategy to tackle this issue for the first time. We develop a bi-colored network based global function predictor, long non-coding RNA global function predictor (‘lnc-GFP’), to predict probable functions for lncRNAs at large scale by integrating gene expression data and protein interaction data. The performance of lnc-GFP is evaluated on protein-coding and lncRNA genes. Cross-validation tests on protein-coding genes with known function annotations indicate that our method can achieve a precision up to 95%, with a suitable parameter setting. Among the 1713 lncRNAs in the bi-colored network, the 1625 (94.9%) lncRNAs in the maximum connected component are all functionally characterized. For the lncRNAs expressed in mouse embryo stem cells and neuronal cells, the inferred putative functions by our method highly match those in the known literature.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Gene, Genetics, Cell nucleus, Gene expression, RNA, Non-coding RNA

168

BACKGROUND: High-throughput deep-sequencing technology has generated an unprecedented number of expressed sequence reads that offer the opportunity to get insight into biological systems. Several databases report the sequence of small regulatory RNAs which play a prominent role in the control of transposable elements (TE). However, the huge amount of data reported in these databases remains mostly unexplored because the available tools are hard for biologists to use. RESULTS: Here we report NucBase, a new program designed to make an exhaustive search for sequence matches and to align short sequence reads from large nucleic acid databases to genomes or input sequences. NucBase includes a graphical interface which allows biologists to align sequences with ease and immediately visualize matched sequences, their number and their genomic position. NucBase identifies nucleic motives with strict identity to input sequences, and it capably finds candidates with one or several mismatches. It offers the opportunity to identify “core sequences” comprised of a chosen number of consecutive matching nucleotides. This software can be run locally on any Windows, Linux or Mac OS computer with 32-bit architecture compatibility. CONCLUSIONS: Since this software is easy to use and can detect reads that were undetected by other software, we believe that it will be useful for biologists involved in the field of TE silencing by small non-coding RNAs. We hope NucBase will be useful for a larger community of researchers, since it makes exploration of small nucleic sequences in any organism much easier.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Genome, RNA, Nucleic acid, Non-coding RNA, Operating system

167

Aging is a complex process that is linked to an increased incidence of major diseases such as cardiovascular and neurodegenerative disease, but also cancer and immune disorders. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs, which post-transcriptionally control gene expression by inhibiting translation or inducing degradation of targeted mRNAs. MiRNAs target up to hundreds of mRNAs, thereby modulating gene expression patterns. Many miRNAs appear to be dysregulated during cellular senescence, aging and disease. However, only few miRNAs have been so far linked to age-related changes in cellular and organ functions. The present article will discuss these findings, specifically focusing on the cardiovascular and neurological systems.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Gene expression, Cancer, Death, Senescence, Messenger RNA, Non-coding RNA