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New Findings Suggest that lncRNA-mediated Epigenetic Regulation Contributes to Brain Development and Ageing in Primate
2017-09-04 | Author: | From:

Dynamic changes in structure and function of brain during development and ageing, especially for primate neocortex which is composed of multiple functional regions with six well-organized horizontal layers segregated by multiple cell types and neuronal connectionshave been attributed to a great plasticity of distinct neural cell types which differ in their genetic signatures, transcriptomes, morphologies, neurotransmitter identities, developmental merits and synaptic connections. 

Long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) are RNA types longer than 200 nucleotides with little protein coding potential. As such, lncRNAs have emerging roles in epigenetic regulation as a new class of transcripts, and comprise a new regulatory system and have been demonstrated as the fastest evolving parts of the primate genome. 

Recently, using advanced transcriptome and CAGE RNA sequencing, a research group led by Dr. LI Jiali at Kunming Institute of Zoology (KIZ) of Chinese Academy of Sciences in collaboration with Drs. HU Xintian and ZHENG Yongtang, and Professor WANG Xiangting at the University of Science and Technology of China, and Dr. ZHANG Yi at the Wuhan ABLife Inc. characterize lncRNA expression in rhesus monkey brain multiple regions with fine anatomical division during postnatal development and aging. The study was published online in Genome Research (http://genome.cshlp.org/content/early/2017/07/07/gr.217463.116.).

The study found that lncRNAs are abundant in rhesus monkey brain, and the homologues brain-specific lncRNAs between rhesus monkey and human are very high. Meanwhile, highly dynamic changes in lncRNA expression in contrast to mRNA expression show spatial, age and sex specificities, and correlation between lncRNAs and mRNAs reflects their dynamic regulation of networks in both positive and negative ways.

The study provides an initial insight into the high spatiotemporal- and sex-specific changes in lncRNA expression in contrast to mRNA expression captures the high dynamics of advanced architecture and function of primate brain well.

The findings of this study also offer significant depth to the exploration of dynamic changes in lncRNA expression during brain development and aging representing a previously unappreciated regulatory system in shaping brain structure and function. They also potentially reinvigorate the strength of the non-human primate models of brain development and aging as well as the neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders.

This study was supported by grants from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Ministry of Science and Technology of China, and the National Science Foundation of China; this study is also supported by grants from the Strategic Priority Research Program of CAS.


Figure. A comprehensive catalog of lncRNA genes in rhesus monkey Brain (Image by LI Jiali’s group)

(A) Illustration of the experimental design and bioinformatics analysis pipeline for the identification and functional annotation of lncRNAgenes expressed in macaque brain.(B-C) Venn diagram of detected mRNA (B) and lncRNA (C) genes inneocortex, hippocampus (CA1 & DG) and cerebellum.(D) Number of NONCODElncRNAs in gorilla, human, mouse and rhesus that are homologous to macaque brain lncRNAs identified in this study with loose (e-value < 1e-3) and strict (e-value < 1e-10) threshold by BLASTN.
(By LI Jiali, Editor: HE linxi)


LI Jiali


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