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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

The long noncoding RNA Six3OS acts in trans to regulate retinal development by modulating Six3 activity

Nicole A Rapicavoli12, Erin M Poth1, Heng Zhu3 and Seth Blackshaw1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Neuroscience, Neurology and Ophthalmology, Center for High-Throughput Biology and Institute for Cell Engineering, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, 733 N. Broadway Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21287, USA

2 Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Program in Epithelial Biology, Department of Dermatology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA

3 Department of Pharmacology and Center for High-Throughput Biology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, 733 N. Broadway Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21287, USA

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Neural Development 2011, 6:32  doi:10.1186/1749-8104-6-32

Published: 21 September 2011

Abstract

Background

Thousands of different long non-coding RNAs are expressed during embryonic development, but the function of these molecules remains largely unexplored.

Results

Here we characterize the expression and function of Six3OS, a long non-coding RNA that is transcribed from the distal promoter region of the gene encoding the homeodomain transcription factor Six3. Overexpression and knockdown analysis of Six3OS reveals that it plays an essential role in regulating retinal cell specification. We further observe that Six3OS regulates Six3 activity in developing retina, but does not do so by modulating Six3 expression. Finally, we show that Six3OS binds directly to Ezh2 and Eya family members, indicating that Six3OS can act as a molecular scaffold to recruit histone modification enzymes to Six3 target genes.

Conclusions

Our findings demonstrate a novel mechanism by which promoter-associated long non-coding RNAs can modulate the activity of their associated protein coding genes, and highlight the importance of this diverse class of molecules in the control of neural development.