Methods for distinguishing between protein-coding and long noncoding RNAs and the elusive biological purpose of translation of long noncoding RNAs
Gali Housman , Igor Ulitsky
Long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) are a diverse class of RNAs with increasingly appreciated functions in vertebrates, yet much of their biology remains poorly understood. In particular, it is unclear to what extent the current catalog of over 10,000 distinct annotated lncRNAs is indeed devoid of genes coding for proteins. Here we review the available computational and experimental schemes for distinguishing between recent genome-wide applications. We conclude that the model most consistent with available data is that a large number of mammalian lncRNAs undergo translation, but only a very small minority of such translation events result in stable and functional peptides. The outcome of the majority of the translation events and their potential biological purposes remain an intriguing topic for future investigation.