Center for Medical Genetics Center for Medical Genetics

Identification of long non-coding RNAs involved in neuronal development and intellectual disability

Recently, exome sequencing led to the identification of causal mutations in 16–31% of patients with intellectual disability (ID), leaving the underlying cause for many patients unidentified. In this context, the noncoding part of the human genome remains largely unexplored. For many long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) a crucial role in neurodevelopment and hence the human brain is anticipated. Here we aimed at identifying lncRNAs associated with neuronal development and ID. Therefore, we applied an integrated genomics approach, harnessing several public epigenetic datasets. We found that the presence of neuron-specific H3K4me3 confers the highest specificity for genes involved in neurodevelopment and ID. Based on the presence of this feature and GWAS hits for CNS disorders, we identified 53 candidate lncRNA genes. Extensive expression profiling on human brain samples and other tissues, followed by Gene Set Enrichment Analysis indicates that at least 24 of these lncRNAs are indeed implicated in processes such as synaptic transmission, nervous system development and neurogenesis. The bidirectional or antisense overlapping orientation relative to multiple coding genes involved in neuronal processes supports these results. In conclusion, we identified several lncRNA genes putatively involved in neurodevelopment and CNS disorders, providing a resource for functional studies.

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Post date: 20 June 2016
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