In silico prediction of lncRNA function using tissue specific and evolutionary conserved expression

U Perron, P Provero, I Molineris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: In recent years long non coding RNAs (lncRNAs) have been the subject of increasing interest. Thanks to many recent functional studies, the existence of a large class of lncRNAs with potential regulatory functions is now widely accepted. Although an increasing number of lncRNAs is being characterized and shown to be involved in many biological processes, the functions of the vast majority lncRNA genes is still unknown. Therefore computational methods able to take advantage of the increasing amount of publicly available data to predict lncRNA functions could be very useful. Results: Since coding genes are much better annotated than lncRNAs, we attempted to project known functional information regarding proteins onto non coding genes using the guilt by association principle: if a gene shows an expression profile that correlates with those of a set of coding genes involved in a given function, that gene is probably involved in the same function. We computed gene coexpression for 30 human tissues and 9 vertebrates and mined the resulting networks with a methodology inspired by the rank product algorithm used to identify differentially expressed genes. Using different types of reference data we can predict putative new annotations for thousands of lncRNAs and proteins, ranging from cellular localization to relevance for disease and cancer. Conclusions: New function of coding genes and lncRNA can be profitably predicted using tissue specific coexpression, as well as expression of orthologous genes in different species. The data are available for download and through a user-friendly web interface at © 2017 The Author(s).
Original languageEnglish
Article number144
JournalBMC Bioinformatics
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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