Much light has been shed on the number, mechanisms and functions of protein-coding genes in the human genome. In comparison, we know almost nothing about the origins and mechanisms of the functional dark matter , including sequence that is transcribed outside of protein-coding gene loci. This interdisciplinary proposal will capitalize on new theoretical and experimental opportunities to establish the extent by which long non-coding RNAs contribute to mammalian and fruit fly biology. Since 2001, the Ponting group has pioneered the comparative analysis of protein-coding genes across the amniotes and Drosophilids within many international genome sequencing consortia. This Advanced Grant will break new ground by applying these approaches to long intergenic non-coding RNA (lincRNA) genes from mammals to birds and to flies. The Grant will allow Ponting to free himself of the constraints normally associated with in silico analyses by analysing lincRNAs in vitro and in vivo. The integration of computational and experimental approaches for lincRNAs from across the metazoan tree provides a powerful new toolkit for elucidating the origins and biological roles of these enigmatic molecules. Catalogues of lincRNA loci will be built for human, mouse, fruit fly, zebrafinch, chicken and Aplysia by exploiting data from next-generation sequencing technologies. This will immediately provide a new perspective on how these loci arise, evolve and function, including whether their orthologues are apparent across diverse species. Using new evidence that lincRNA loci act in cis with neighbouring protein-coding loci, we will determine lincRNA mechanisms and will establish the consequences of lincRNA knock-down, knock-out and over-expression in mouse, chick and fruitfly.
Fields of science
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Funding SchemeERC-AG - ERC Advanced Grant