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Small Nucleolar RNAs: Versatile trans-Acting Molecules of Ancient Evolutionary Origin

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The small nucleolar RNAs (snoRNAs) are an abundant class of trans-acting RNAs that function in ribosome biogenesis in the eukaryotic nucleolus. Elegant work has revealed that most known snoRNAs guide modification of pre-ribosomal RNA (pre-rRNA) by base pairing near target sites. Other snoRNAs are involved in cleavage of pre-rRNA by mechanisms that have not yet been detailed. Moreover, our appreciation of the cellular roles of the snoRNAs is expanding with new evidence that snoRNAs also target modification of small nuclear RNAs and messenger RNAs. Many snoRNAs are produced by unorthodox modes of biogenesis including salvage from introns of pre-mRNAs. The recent discovery that homologs of snoRNAs as well as associated proteins exist in the domain Archaea indicates that the RNA-guided RNA modification system is of ancient evolutionary origin. In addition, it has become clear that the RNA component of vertebrate telomerase (an enzyme implicated in cancer and cellular senescence) is related to snoRNAs. During its evolution, vertebrate telomerase RNA appears to have co-opted a snoRNA domain that is essential for the function of telomerase RNA in vivo. The unique properties of snoRNAs are now being harnessed for basic research and therapeutic applications.
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Keywords: Small nucleolar RNA Nucleolus RNP Telomerase Archa

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602

Publication date: January 1, 2002

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  • Gene Expression The Journal of Liver Research will publish articles in all aspects of hepatology. Hepatology, as a research discipline, has seen unprecedented growth especially in the cellular and molecular mechanisms of hepatic health and disease, which continues to have a major impact on understanding liver development, stem cells, carcinogenesis, tissue engineering, injury, repair, regeneration, immunology, metabolism, fibrosis, and transplantation. Continued research and improved understanding in these areas will have a meaningful impact on liver disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. The existing journal Gene Expression has expanded its focus to become Gene Expression The Journal of Liver Research to meet this growing demand. In its revised and expanded scope, the journal will publish high-impact original articles, reviews, short but complete articles, and special articles (editorials, commentaries, opinions) on all aspects of hepatology, making it a unique and invaluable resource for readers interested in this field. The expanded team, led by an Editor-in-Chief who is uniquely qualified and a renowned expert, along with a dynamic and functional editorial board, is determined to make this a premier journal in the field of hepatology.

    From Volume 16, Gene Expression The Journal of Liver Research is Open Access under the terms of the Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND license.

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