Regulation of gene expression by trans-encoded antisense RNAs


  • Nicholas Delihas

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, School of Medicine, Life Sciences Building, State University of New York, Stony Brook, New York 11794-5222, USA.
    • Tel. (516) 632 8779; Fax (516) 632 8891.

    Search for more papers by this author


Members of a class of antisense RNAs are encoded by genes that are located at loci other than those of their target genes. Three examples of antisense RNA genes are discussed here. micF is found in Escherichia coli and other bacteria and functions to control outer membrane protein F levels in response to environmental stimuli. dicF is also found in E. coli and is involved in the regulation of cell division, lin-4 is found in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans and functions during larval development. Nucleotide sequences of at least two of these genes appear to be phylogenetically conserved. The trans-encoded antisense RNAs are small RNAs which display only partial complementarity to their target RNAs. Models for RNA/RNA interactions have been proposed. It is possible that currently known unlinked antisense RNA genes are part of a larger class of heretofore undiscovered regulatory RNA genes. Possible ways of detecting other unlinked antisense RNA genes are discussed.