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POLIII-derived non-coding RNAs acting as scaffolds and decoys
Hendrik Täuber1, Stefan Hüttelmaier1, and Marcel Köhn 1,2,*
1 Institute of Molecular Medicine, Section for Molecular Cell Biology, Faculty of Medicine, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, Charles Tanford Protein Centre, Kurt-Mothes-Str. 3a, 06120 Halle, Germany
2 Julius Bernstein Institute of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, Charles Tanford Protein Centre, Kurt-Mothes-Str. 3a, 06120 Halle, Germany
*Correspondence to:Marcel Köhn, E-mail: marcel.koehn@medizin.uni-halle.de
J Mol Cell Biol, Volume 11, Issue 10, October 2019, Pages 880-885  https://doi.org/10.1093/jmcb/mjz049
Keyword: ncRNA, POLIII, RBP scaffold, RBP decoy

A large variety of eukaryotic small structured POLIII-derived non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) have been described in the past. However, for only few, e.g. 7SL and H1/MRP families, cellular functions are well understood. For the vast majority of these transcripts, cellular functions remain unknown. Recent findings on the role of Y RNAs and other POLIII-derived ncRNAs suggest an evolutionarily conserved function of these ncRNAs in the assembly and function of ribonucleoprotein complexes (RNPs). These RNPs provide cellular `machineries’, which are essential for guiding the fate and function of a variety of RNAs. In this review, we summarize current knowledge on the role of POLIII-derived ncRNAs in the assembly and function of RNPs. We propose that these ncRNAs serve as scaffolding factors that `chaperone’ RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) to form functional RNPs. In addition or associated with this role, some small ncRNAs act as molecular decoys impairing the RBP-guided control of RNA fate by competing with other RNA substrates. This suggests that POLIII-derived ncRNAs serve essential and conserved roles in the assembly of larger RNPs and thus the control of gene expression by indirectly guiding the fate of mRNAs and lncRNAs.