The Realm of Noncoding RNAs


For decades, a biologist could think of a gene as a protein-coding piece of the genome. There were exceptions, although these noncoding genes encoded RNA that tended to have housekeeping or structural roles. It was obvious that the non-protein products were important for the cell, but it was hard — for some of us, anyway — to imagine these RNAs playing many cool regulatory roles in processes like development or the progression of disease. As a result, we could concentrate on protein-coding genes when compiling gene sets, designing microarrays, and doing other large-scale biology.

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