Although it's becoming more apparent that the intergenic space between protein-coding genes—often referred to as "junk"—is actively transcribed and often produces non–protein-coding RNAs, the role of these RNAs and their transcription is largely unknown. In the June 3 Nature, Joseph Martens, Lisa Laprade, and Fred Winston report a previously unknown form of gene regulation involving a non–protein-coding RNA, SRG1, which can regulate a neighboring gene by simply being transcribed.

"I was very pleased to see another role for intergenic transcription which primarily implicates the process of transcription itself rather than the non-coding RNA, which in this case, may be just a by-product," said Peter Fraser, from the Babraham Institute, Cambridge, UK, who was not involved in the study.

The work began with a Saccharomyces cerevisiae gene called SER3, which catalyzes a step in serine biosynthesis and was previously found to be tightly repressed by the yeast switch–sniff...

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