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The Landscape of the Human Intergenic Transcriptome

  • Author(s): Vaughn, Ian William
  • Advisor(s): McManus, Michael
  • et al.

Known protein coding gene exons compose less than 3% of the human genome. The remaining 97% is largely uncharted territory, with only a small fraction characterized. The recent observation of transcription in this intergenic territory has stimulated debate about the extent of intergenic transcription and whether these intergenic RNAs are functional. Here we directly observed with a large set of RNA-seq data covering a wide array of human tissue types that the majority of the genome is indeed transcribed, corroborating recent observations by the ENCODE project. Furthermore, using de novo transcriptome assembly of this RNA-seq data, we found that intergenic regions encode far more long intergenic noncoding RNAs (lincRNAs) than previously described, helping to resolve the discrepancy between the vast amount of observed intergenic transcription and the limited number of previously known lincRNAs. Given that most lincRNAs have no known function, the use and development of high-throughput strategies for identifying gene function will be an important component of efforts understand the biological roles played by noncoding RNAs. Here, we begin to develop a genetic interaction mapping platform for the rapid elucidation of gene function in death receptor signaling pathways.

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