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New Insights Into the Long Non-coding RNA SRA: Physiological Functions and Mechanisms of Action

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)244
JournalFrontiers in Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 6 Sep 2018


Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNA) are emerging as new genetic/epigenetic regulators that can impact almost all physiological functions. Here, we focus on the long non-coding steroid receptor RNA activator (SRA), including new insights into its effects on gene expression, the cell cycle, and differentiation; how these relate to physiology and disease; and the mechanisms underlying these effects. We discuss how SRA acts as an RNA coactivator in nuclear receptor signaling; its effects on steroidogenesis, adipogenesis, and myocyte differentiation; the impact on breast and prostate cancer tumorigenesis; and, finally, its ability to modulate hepatic steatosis through several signaling pathways. Genome-wide analysis reveals that SRA regulates hundreds of target genes in adipocytes and breast cancer cells and binds to thousands of genomic sites in human pluripotent stem cells. Recent studies indicate that SRA acts as a molecular scaffold and forms networks with numerous coregulators and chromatin-modifying regulators in both activating and repressive complexes. We discuss how modifications to SRA's unique stem-loop secondary structure are important for SRA function, and highlight the various SRA isoforms and mutations that have clinical implications. Finally, we discuss the future directions for better understanding the molecular mechanisms of SRA action and how this might lead to new diagnostic and therapeutic approaches.

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