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Received October 1, 2014
Most of the mammalian genome consists of nucleotide sequences not coding for proteins. Exons of genes make up only 3% of the human genome, while the significance of most other sequences remains unknown. Recent genome studies with high-throughput methods demonstrate that the so-called noncoding part of the genome may perform important functions. This hypothesis is supported by three groups of experimental data: 1) approximately 10% of the sequences, most of which are located in noncoding parts of the genome, is evolutionarily conserved and thus can be of functional importance; 2) up to 99% of the mammalian genome is being transcribed forming short and long noncoding RNAs in addition to common mRNA; and 3) mutations in noncoding parts of the genome can be accompanied by progression of pathological states of the organism. In the light of these data, in the review we consider the functional role of numerous known sequences of noncoding parts of the genome including introns, DNA methylation regions, enhancers and locus control regions, insulators, S/MAR sequences, pseudogenes, and genes of noncoding RNAs, as well as transposons and simple repeats of centromeric and telomeric regions of chromosomes. The assumption is made that the intergenic noncoding sequences without definite/clear functions can be involved in spatial organization of genetic loci in interphase nuclei.
KEY WORDS: noncoding sequences, pervasive transcription, transcription regulation, promoter, 5′-UTR, 3′-UTR, DNA methylation, CpG islands, intron, splicing, transcription enhancer, LCR, insulator, S/MAR, noncoding RNA, siRNA, miRNA, lncRNA, pseudogene, repeated sequences, MGE