Hotairm1 Regulates Cell Fate Pathways in Mouse Embryonic Stem Cell Differentiation
The role of non-coding RNAs within the cell is an emerging topic that is currently in full force and gains in this field have added increased depth to our understanding of the central dogma of molecular biology. Non-coding RNAs are able to perform functions much like that of and in conjunction with proteins; and their ability to bind to proteins and nucleic acids provides them with powerful epigenetic regulatory capabilities that either enhance or silence gene expression to determine cell fate. One such process which is highly precise and essential to life is the coordinated and cell-type specific expression of the Hox cluster during early embryonic stem cell differentiation. These Homeobox (Hox) genes are responsible for the formation of cell type boundaries, making them essential to multicellular life. Here, I will show a non-coding RNA, Hotairm1, is involved in the regulation of an essential component of early embryonic stem cell differentiation: the expression of the Hoxa cluster; and implicate it in other major pathways as well as deregulatory processes that lead to various cancers.