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Frontiers in RNA biology: Advances from a small fly Drosophila melanogaster

Abstract

In this article, we discuss emerging frontiers in RNA biology from a historical perspective. The field is currently undergoing yet another transformative expansion. RNA-seq has revealed that splicing, and, more generally, RNA processing is far more complex than expected, and the mechanisms of regulation are correspondingly sophisticated. Our understanding of the molecular machines involved in RNA metabolism is incomplete and derives from small sample sizes. Even if we manage to complete a catalogue of molecular species, RNA isoforms and the ribonucleoprotein complexes that drive their genesis, the horizons of molecular dynamics and cell-type-specific processing mechanisms await. This is an exciting time to enter into the study of RNA biology; analytical tools, wet and dry, are advancing rapidly, and each new measurement modality brings into view another new function or activity of versatile RNA. Since the dawn of sequence-based RNA biology, we have come a long way.

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