Researchers have uncovered some 58,000 types of long-noncoding RNAs that are produced made by human cells, suggesting that much of the human genome has some sort of role to play, Carl Zimmer writes at the New York Times.
He notes, though, that some researchers doubt the importance of lncRNA and argue they are just noise.
But, Stanford University's Howard Chang recently reported in Genes & Development that he and his colleagues found that a key portion of the fruit fly lncRNA roX is conserved in a number of other flies.
That they are highly conserved, Zimmer notes, indicates that lncRNAs may be important. "The fact that these flies share a common ancestor that lived 40 million years ago suggests that these newly identified genes have some impressive staying power and encode lncRNAs important to survival," he adds.
Chang and his colleagues further reported that the lncRNA Hotair is present in 43 different vertebrates, from armadillos to zebrafish.