08/07/2015 - 12:00 - Auditori PRBB

Long non-coding RNAs as a source of new peptides

Scientific sessions, CRG Group Leader Seminars

Mar Albà

Evolutionary Genomics Group, Research Unit on Biomedical Informatics (GRIB, IMIM-UPF)

Short bio

Mar Albà received a PhD in Biological Sciences at the University of Barcelona in 1997 and an MSc in Bioinformatics and Molecular Modeling at Birkbeck College (London) in 1999. In the period 1998-2001 she worked on comparative genomics in the groups of John Hancock (Medical Research Council, UK) and Paul Kellam (University College London). In 2002 she was awarded a Ramón y Cajal contract and initiated her independent research at Universitat Pompeu Fabra. In 2005 she moved to the Hospital del Mar Reserch Institute (IMIM) with an ICREA position. Her research interests are centered on understanding the molecular mechanisms that drive evolutionary innovation. 


High throughput sequencing of the eukaryotic transcriptome has resulted in the identification of many transcripts that lack long conserved open reading frames and which have been classified as long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs). The majority of them are expressed at low levels and do not have a known function. Despite having been annotated as non-coding RNAs, the sequencing of ribosome-protected RNA fragments (ribosome profiling) has revealed that many of them are scanned by ribosomes and are likely to translate into short peptides. We have examined single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) data and have found evidence of purifying selection on the corresponding coding regions. We propose that lncRNAs provide the necessary raw material for the evolution of new functional proteins during evolution.