Small Nucleolar RNAs: Players in Human Development and Disease
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Throughout the late 20th century, small nucleolar RNAs (snoRNAs) were identified as a novel class of non-coding RNA. SnoRNAs comprise three main classes based on conserved sequence motifs: C/D box, H/ACA box and Cajal body-associated snoRNAs. Their canonical function is to provide specificity to discrete ribonucleoprotein complexes, which post-transcriptionally modify ribosomal RNAs and spliceosomal small nuclear RNAs. It has become increasingly clear that snoRNAs can adopt unexpected cellular functions, ranging from the regulation of chromatin states to cell-cell communication. In addition, snoRNAs are intimately involved in cellular programs critical to development, as revealed by studies from model organisms. In this writing assignment, the ever expanding repertoire of snoRNA biology will be reviewed with an ultimate focus on developmental disease.