General complexities in versatile animals are not always proportional to their genome size. A notable example is that the salamander genome size is 15-fold larger than that of human, which mostly contains unfolded “junk DNA.” A vast portion of this non-protein-coding unfolded DNA undergoes transcriptional regulation and produces a large number of long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs). LncRNAs play key roles in gene expression and therapies of different human diseases. Recently, novel lncRNAs and their function on the silencing or activation of a particular gene(s) are regularly being discovered. Another important component of gene regulation is high packing of chromatin, which is composed of mainly repetitive sequences with negligible coding potential. In particular, an epigenetic marker determines the state of the gene associated with it, whether the gene will be expressed or silenced. Here, we elaborately discuss the biogenesis pathway of lncRNAs as well as their mechanism of action and role in gene silencing and regulation, including RNA interference. Moreover, several lncRNAs are the common precursors of small regulatory RNAs. It is thus becoming increasingly clear that lncRNAs can function via numerous paradigms as key regulatory molecules in different organisms.
Part of the book: RNA Interference