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Dark matter of the human transcriptome: Functional study of the antisense Long Noncoding RNAs and Molecular Mechanisms of Action (DARK)
Start date: Dec 1, 2014, End date: Nov 30, 2019 PROJECT  ONGOING 

98% of the human genome is non-protein coding raising the question of the role of the dark matter of the genome. It is now admitted that pervasive transcription generates thousands of noncoding transcripts that regulate gene expression and have broad impacts on development and disease. Among the long non coding (lnc)RNAs, antisense transcripts have been poorly studied despite their putative regulatory importance. Several functional examples include X-chromosome inactivation, maintenance of pluripotency and transcriptional regulation. However, no systematic study has yet addressed the comprehensive functional description of human antisense ncRNA, mainly because of technological issues and their low abundance. Indeed, in budding yeast S. cerevisiae, our group showed the existence of an entire class of antisense regulatory lncRNA extremely sensitive to RNA decay pathways, impinging their study so far. The roles for yeast antisense lncRNAs in shaping the epigenome raises important questions: What are the molecular and biochemical mechanisms by which antisense lncRNAs carry out their functions and are they functionally conserved in human cells? We propose that the dark side of the non-coding genome is another layer of gene regulation complexity that needs to be deciphered.With this proposal, we aim to draw the first exhaustive catalog of human antisense lncRNA in various cell types and tissues using up to date High throughput technologies and bioinformatics pipelines. Second, we propose to determine the functional role of antisense lncRNA on genome expression and stability in the context of cellular stress and cancer. We anticipate that powerful and modern genetic tools such DNA-mediated gene inactivation (ASO) and TALEN approaches will allow precise antisense genes manipulation never achieved so far. Our project is strongly supported by preliminary data indicating an unexpected large number of hidden antisense lncRNA in human cells controlled by RNA decay pathways.
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