Minireview: global regulation and dynamics of ribonucleic Acid.
Gene expression starts with transcription and is followed by multiple posttranscriptional processes that carry out the splicing, capping, polyadenylation, and export of each mRNA. Interest in posttranscriptional regulation has increased recently with explosive discoveries of large numbers of noncoding RNAs such as microRNAs, yet posttranscriptional processes depend largely on the functions of RNA-binding proteins as well. Glucocorticoid nuclear receptors are classical examples of environmentally reactive activators and repressors of transcription, but there has also been a significant increase in studies of the role of posttranscriptional regulation in endocrine responses, including insulin and insulin receptors, and parathyroid hormone as well as other hormonal responses, at the levels of RNA stability and translation. On the global level, the transcriptome is defined as the total RNA complement of the genome, and thereby, represents the accumulated levels of all expressed RNAs, because they are each being produced and eventually degraded in either the nucleus or the cytoplasm. In addition to RNA turnover, the many underlying posttranscriptional layers noted above that follow from the transcriptome function within a dynamic ribonucleoprotein (RNP) environment of global RNA-protein and RNA-RNA interactions. With the exception of the spliceosome and the ribosome, thousands of heterodispersed RNP complexes wherein RNAs are dynamically processed, trafficked, and exchanged are heterogeneous in size and composition, thus providing significant challenges to their investigation. Among the diverse RNPs that show dynamic features in the cytoplasm are processing bodies and stress granules as well as a large number of smaller heterogeneous RNPs distributed throughout the cell. Although the localization of functionally related RNAs within these RNPs are responsive to developmental and environmental signals, recent studies have begun to elucidate the global RNA components of RNPs that are dynamically coordinated in response to these signals. Among the factors that have been found to affect coordinated RNA regulation are developmental signals and treatments with small molecule drugs, hormones, and toxins, but this field is just beginning to understand the role of RNA dynamics in these responses.
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