Systematic evaluation of C. elegans lincRNAs with CRISPR knockout mutants

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Abstract

Background: Long intergenic RNAs (lincRNAs) play critical roles in eukaryotic cells, but systematic analyses of the lincRNAs of an animal for phenotypes are lacking. We generate CRISPR knockout strains for Caenorhabditis elegans lincRNAs and evaluate their phenotypes. Results: C. elegans lincRNAs demonstrate global features such as shorter length and fewer exons than mRNAs. For the systematic evaluation of C. elegans lincRNAs, we produce CRISPR knockout strains for 155 of the total 170 C. elegans lincRNAs. Mutants of 23 lincRNAs show phenotypes in 6 analyzed traits. We investigate these lincRNAs by phenotype for their gene expression patterns and potential functional mechanisms. Some C. elegans lincRNAs play cis roles to modulate the expression of their neighboring genes, and several lincRNAs play trans roles as ceRNAs against microRNAs. We also examine the regulation of lincRNA expression by transcription factors, and we dissect the pathway by which two transcription factors, UNC-30 and UNC-55, together control the expression of linc-73. Furthermore, linc-73 possesses a cis function to modulate the expression of its neighboring kinesin gene unc-104 and thus plays roles in C. elegans locomotion. Conclusions: By using CRISPR/cas9 technology, we generate knockout strains of 155 C. elegans lincRNAs as valuable resources for studies in noncoding RNAs, and we provide biological insights for 23 lincRNAs with the phenotypes identified in this study.

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Wei, S., Chen, H., Dzakah, E. E., Yu, B., Wang, X., Fu, T., … Shan, G. (2019). Systematic evaluation of C. elegans lincRNAs with CRISPR knockout mutants. Genome Biology, 20(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13059-018-1619-6

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