If you were forced to choose a few bare essentials for a lengthy stay on a deserted island, most of us would choose items like some great tunes, a favorite book, or a loved one, but some new research points out that lincRNAs ought to be considered too, since a clever crew at Harvard has recently shown that lincRNAs are essential to life.
Researchers from the Rinn Lab set out to investigate the functional relevance of lincRNAs under a number of physiological conditions, given that they are a key player in the regulation of gene expression. And as author Loyal Goff shared with us, the team has “been generating knockout mouse models for 20 lincRNAs and the first paper from this study was just accepted at eLife.” Goff also clued us in that the group has “a pretty amazing story about these lincRNA knockouts”.
The scientists focused on a subgroup of lncRNAs called long intergenic noncoding RNAs (lincRNAs) so that the genetic deletion would not overlap known protein coding genes or other known gene annotations, and thus allow for regular transcription and not interfere with any shared promoters. Here’s what they discovered:
- Knockout of 3 of the lincRNAs of interest produces a lethal phenotype, a true TKO (at least in the boxing world).
- Several other knockouts also produced severe growth and homeotic defects.
- Further detailed characterization was also done on a particular lincRNA knockout (linc-Brn1b), which led developmental defects in the brain.
Goff summarized that, “All in all, the study goes a long way to demonstrate once and for all that lincRNAs can, and do, contribute significantly to mammalian physiology, development, and viability.”
Get Linc’d In over at eLife, December 2013