With the emergence of high-throughput sequence characterization methods and the subsequent improvements in gene annotations, it is becoming increasingly clear that a large proportion of eukaryotic protein-coding genes (as many as 50% in human) serve as host genes for non-coding RNA genes. Amongst the most extensively characterized embedded non-coding RNA genes, small nucleolar RNAs and microRNAs represent abundant families. Encoded individually or clustered, in sense or antisense orientation with respect to their host and independently expressed or dependent on host expression, the genomic characteristics of embedded genes determine their biogenesis and the extent of their relationship with their host gene. Not only can host genes and the embedded genes they harbour be co-regulated and mutually modulate each other, many are functionally coupled playing a role in the same cellular pathways. And while host-non-coding RNA relationships can be highly conserved, mechanisms have been identified, and in particular an association with transposable elements, allowing the appearance of copies of non-coding genes nested in host genes, or the migration of embedded genes from one host gene to another. The study of embedded non-coding genes and their relationship with their host genes increases the complexity of cellular networks and provides important new regulatory links that are essential to properly understand cell function.
Boivin, V., Deschamps-Francoeur, G., & Scott, M. S. (2018, March 1). Protein coding genes as hosts for noncoding RNA expression. Seminars in Cell and Developmental Biology. Elsevier Ltd. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.semcdb.2017.08.016