Orphan noncoding RNAs: novel regulators and cancer biomarkers
The transformation of normal tissue to malignant tumours is driven by the widespread reprogramming of gene expression. Historically, the majority of research efforts have focused on the alternations of protein-coding genes as they were thought to be the only biologically functional feature in the human genome. Consequently, transcripts from the noncoding regions were viewed as transcriptional noise and overlooked despite reports of their aberrant expression in various cancers (1,2). In the past decade through emerging technologies, studies began to reveal that noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs) can also have important biological functions and are implicated in diverse cellular processes and disease progressions (3-5). Ever since, ncRNAs have gained significant research interest and a large number of studies have been conducted to elucidate their functions and roles.