Research Topic

Non-Coding RNAs in Reproductive Biology

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Although at least 80% of the human genome is biologically active, less than 2% is transcribed into protein-coding mRNAs. Much of the non-protein-coding portion is known to be made up of RNA that is transcribed but not translated into proteins, the so-called non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs). ncRNAs consist of several ...

Although at least 80% of the human genome is biologically active, less than 2% is transcribed into protein-coding mRNAs. Much of the non-protein-coding portion is known to be made up of RNA that is transcribed but not translated into proteins, the so-called non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs). ncRNAs consist of several classes of transcripts that can be classified according to their function into housekeeping (e.g., ribosomal RNA and transfer RNA) and regulatory RNAs. The main categories of regulatory RNAs include microRNAs (miRNAs), small interfering RNAs (siRNAs), PIWI-interacting RNAs (piRNAs), long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) and circular RNAs (circRNAs). In the past years, ncRNAs have been considered as master regulators of transcription, transcript stability, post-transcriptional and epigenetic regulation of protein-coding transcripts, with functions in both physiological processes and human diseases.

To date, an important aspect of the research on reproductive biology is the identification of protein-coding genes that play important roles in the development of organs and tissues involved in reproduction. Mutations in these genes can have devastating effects on the reproductive system, while much less attention is paid to the possible important roles of ncRNAs on reproduction. Several examples in reproductive physiology and disease clearly demonstrate that ncRNAs are essential for proper cellular functions such as ovarian follicle and embryo development, and that alterations in ncRNAs may play a role in various diseases such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), ovarian and prostate cancer. Next to these observations, it has been reported that substantial numbers of lncRNAs are expressed at specific stages of embryonic development, in many cases from regions flanking key developmental regulators. Nevertheless, there are still many open questions with respect to biological functions and molecular mechanisms of ncRNAs in reproductive science.

In this Research Topic, we welcome Original Research and Review articles that contribute to our understanding of the biological and molecular roles of ncRNAs within the regulation of reproductive processes. Topics covered may include, but are not limited to:

1. The regulation of ncRNAs on the spermatogenesis and folliculogenesis.
2. The role of ncRNAs on the embryo implantation and placenta development.
3. The function of ncRNAs on the reproductive diseases, including disorders of sex development, endometriosis, PCOS, male and female infertility, as well as testicular, ovarian, prostate cancer.
4. The relationship between ncRNAs and embryo development, mainly focusing on sex differentiation, development of reproductive and other organs such as muscle.
5. Epigenetic regulation by the ncRNAs, such as through regulation of microRNAs or histone modifications.


Keywords: ncRNAs, Reproduction, Embryo, Epigenetic Regulation


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