The central role of RNA in the genetic programming of complex organisms.

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An Acad Bras Cienc 2010 Dec;82(4):933-9

Institute for Molecular Bioscience, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.

Notwithstanding lineage-specific variations, the number and type of protein-coding genes remain relatively static across the animal kingdom. By contrast there has been a massive expansion in the extent of genomic non-protein-coding sequences with increasing developmental complexity. These non-coding sequences are, in fact, transcribed in a regulated manner to produce large numbers of large and small non-protein-coding RNAs that control gene expression at many levels including chromatin architecture, post-transcriptional processing and translation. Moreover, many RNAs are edited, especially in the nervous system, which may be the basis of epigenome-environment interactions and the function of the brain.

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December 2010
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