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Medium-sized ncRNAs in diseases

Massive parallel sequencing technologies revealed that large fractions of eukaryotic genomes are transcribed. Interestingly, just a portion of the transcriptome seems to be protein-coding. Many transcripts are considered to encode no protein and are thus referred to as non-coding RNA (ncRNA). Among those ncRNAs exist RNA species with a size of 50 to 300 nts in length. These are referred to as medium-sized ncRNAs (msRNAs) in contrast to long ncRNAs (lncRNAs; >200 nts) or small ncRNAs (e.g. miRNAs/piRNAs; <50 nts). Although msRNAs are quite heterogeneous in respect to their biogenesis, cellular localization and functions it is generally accepted that many of these RNAs serve essential cellular roles like in translation, transcription or splicing. Due to the variety of processes controlled by msRNAs it is important to characterize the expression patterns of msRNAs and how they contribute to cell functions in health and disease.