Long noncoding RNAs (lincRNAs) regulate somatic cell reprogramming — the process used to convert cells committed to one fate into induced pluripotent stem cells. These findings, published online this week in Nature Genetics, are the first demonstration of a function for lincRNAs in somatic cell reprogramming.
LincRNAs are encoded in the mammalian genome and are evolutionarily conserved. The biological roles of lincRNAs, which don’t encode proteins but rather have functions carried out by the RNA molecule are known for only a few of the many known lincRNAs.
George Daley and colleagues report that one such region, the lincRNA-RoR, regulates reprogramming of fibroblasts and blood cells into induced pluripotent stem cells. The authors further show that increased levels of lincRNA-RoR improves reprogramming efficiency.