Research Topic

The RNA Revolution in Embryonic Development and Cell Differentiation in Health and Disease

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Once merely considered a passive gear in the flux of genetic information from DNA to proteins, today the RNA molecule is regarded as primary player in multiple cellular processes. Its ability to fold into complex secondary and tertiary structures, coupled with the possibility to interact with proteins and ...

Once merely considered a passive gear in the flux of genetic information from DNA to proteins, today the RNA molecule is regarded as primary player in multiple cellular processes. Its ability to fold into complex secondary and tertiary structures, coupled with the possibility to interact with proteins and other nucleic acids, confer remarkable properties to RNA. The vast majority of our genome is transcribed into RNA and alternative splicing increases the number of possible transcripts generated from a given genome. RNA molecules come in different sizes, short to long, and shapes, linear or circular, and post-transcriptional modifications expand the variety beyond the canonical four bases code. RNA localizes both in the nucleus, in the cytoplasm and in the extracellular space, e.g. in exosomes. All these properties make RNA a highly versatile tool for the cell. Regulatory functions in many fundamental biological processes have indeed been demanded to RNA, particularly in complex organisms, while alteration in the RNA metabolism might become a dangerous trigger in a number of human diseases. Examples include RNA-based regulatory mechanisms at the basis of cell differentiation and embryonic development, and pathogenic mutations in RNA-binding proteins associated to diseases of the nervous system. Following the genome-sequencing era at the turning of the millennium, recent years have seen an outstanding advancement in the methodologies for transcriptome analysis, even at the single cell resolution. This is leading to an increasingly detailed knowledge on the RNA species present in a given cell in a given moment, and on how this stock changes in time and space during development and differentiation. Moreover, new powerful high-throughput techniques allow studying the interaction of RNA molecules with their key partners, such as RNA-binding proteins. However, a great number of RNA species are still orphan of an assigned function, or they might be more multitasking than expected. A better grasp of the RNA molecule, in all its facets, is essential to increase our understanding of the cell biology, in physiology and pathology.

In this Research Topic, we welcome original research and review articles that will contribute to one of the Sections listed here below focused on the contribution of coding/non-coding RNA, their RNA binding protein and RNA networks to the regulation of stemness, pluripotency and cell fate determination during embryogenesis and adult life. Of particular interest will be also manuscripts addressing the RNA modification and editing and how these molecular mechanisms may contribute to the pathological cell fate determination in cancer and degenerative diseases.

- RNA contribution to embryonic development in health and diseases;
- ncRNA in normal and pathological cell fate determination;
- ncRNA in stemness, pluripotency and cell fate determination during embryogenesis;
- RNA binding proteins in embryonic determination and embryonic stem cells differentiation;
- RBPs in normal and pathological cell fate determination;
- RNA metabolism in neurodegeneration;
- Epitranscriptomic in normal and pathological cell fate determination;
- RNA editing and cancer;
- RNA modification in development and disease;
- High-throughput approaches to identify ncRNA regulatory networks in normal and pathological cell fate determination;
- RNA networks to identify novel regulators of pluripotency;
- Circular RNAs biogenesis and function.


Keywords: ncRNA, cell fate determination, RNA metabolism in neurodegeneration, RNA networks as regulators of pluripotency, RNA binding proteins in embryonic determination


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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