Long non-coding RNA structure and function: Is there a link?

Anna Zampetaki*, Andreas Albrecht, Kathleen Steinhofel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review

159 Citations (Scopus)
224 Downloads (Pure)


RNA has emerged as the prime target for diagnostics, therapeutics and the development of personalized medicine. In particular, the non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) that do not encode proteins, display remarkable biochemical versatility. They can fold into complex structures and interact with proteins, DNA and other RNAs, modulating the activity, DNA targets or partners of multiprotein complexes. Thus, ncRNAs confer regulatory plasticity and represent a new layer of epigenetic control that is dysregulated in disease. Intriguingly, for long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs, > 200 nucleotides length) structural conservation rather than nucleotide sequence conservation seems to be crucial for maintaining their function. LncRNAs tend to acquire complex secondary and tertiary structures and their functions only impose very subtle sequence constraints. In the present review we will discuss the biochemical assays that can be employed to determine the lncRNA structural configurations. The implications and challenges of linking function and lncRNA structure to design novel RNA therapeutic approaches will also be analyzed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1201
JournalFrontiers in Physiology
Issue numberAUG
Publication statusPublished - 24 Aug 2018


  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Gene editing
  • LncRNA
  • Non-coding RNA
  • RNA structure


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