An interview with Dr. Chase Spurlock, CEO, IQuity, conducted by April Cashin-Garbutt, MA (Cantab)
What are long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) and how do they differ from messenger RNAs (mRNAs)?
Well, the central dogma of biology states that DNA makes RNA and RNA makes proteins. However, there are many different types of RNAs, and only one of them, the messenger RNA (mRNA), gives rise to proteins. Some others don’t make proteins at all.
When the maps of the human genome were completed, it was noticed that there were stretches of DNA sequence for which no function had been identified. We called these regions “junk DNA.” But over a decade later, we now appreciate that this “junk” is in fact exerting some sort of biological function, and one way is through the production of long non-coding RNAs, or lncRNAs.
lncRNAs emerged as a new class of RNA molecule predominantly in the late 2000s and we’re still trying to fully recognize their importance. lncRNAs don’t give rise to proteins, but they’re powerful regulators of other genes that are often nearby.