There is increasing evidence that dynamic changes to chromatin, chromosomes and nuclear architecture are regulated by RNA signalling. Although the precise molecular mechanisms are not well understood, they appear to involve the differential recruitment of a hierarchy of generic chromatin modifying complexes and DNA methyltransferases to specific loci by RNAs during differentiation and development. A significant fraction of the genome-wide transcription of non-protein coding RNAs may be involved in this process, comprising a previously hidden layer of intermediary genetic information that underpins developmental ontogeny and the differences between species, ecotypes and individuals. It is also evident that RNA editing is a primary means by which hardwired genetic information in animals can be altered by environmental signals, especially in the brain, indicating a dynamic RNA-mediated interplay between the transcriptome, the environment and the epigenome. Moreover, RNA-directed regulatory processes may also transfer epigenetic information not only within cells but also between cells and organ systems, as well as across generations.
- DNA methylation
- Histone modification
- Noncoding RNA
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology