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Title: Evolution and function of long noncoding RNAs in Drosophila
Author: Young, Rob
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2011
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Not all transcribed DNA encodes protein, and some of these noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs), such as roX1 and roX2, may play important roles in the cell. The functional roles of the majority of these, however, remain largely unknown. In this thesis, I first used EST and mRNA evidence to define 2,788 lincRNA loci within the Drosophila melanogaster genome. I suggest that up to 1,652 of these are functional, as 1,411 show evidence for significant evolutionary constraint while 241 fast-evolving loci are enriched in short RNA species. A distinct set of 1,119 lincRNA loci were defined by RNA-seq, the vast majority of which show clear primary sequence constraint. Their expression profiles and enrichment in particular chromatin domains indicate that these lincRNAs are likely involved in developmental regulation. I also identified 42 potential analogous lincRNAs with shared genomic locations between Drosophila and mouse. Constrained, non-embryonic lincRNAs defined by ESTs are transcribed preferentially in the vicinity of protein-coding genes encoding transcription factors and I demonstrated that one of these, which I name dEvf-2, positively regulates the expression of its genomically adjacent transcription factor, Dll, in cell culture. Finally, I used a reverse genetics approach to search for lincRNA promoter mutations and examined the effect of these on lincRNA expression. My findings suggest that many, previously unknown, functional lincRNAs exist within the Drosophila genome and are worthy of further in-depth experimental investigation.
Supervisor: Ponting, Christopher P. ; Liu, Jilong Sponsor: Medical Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Bioinformatics (life sciences) ; Genetics (life sciences) ; Evolution (zoology) ; Molecular genetics ; Drosophila ; evolution ; long intergenic noncoding RNAs