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While the major focus of the human genome is on the coding exonic regions, a recent publication has shed light on the massive number of long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs). Based on their findings, the researchers suggest that approximately 19,000 lncRNAs could be functional, a number which rivals that of the number of known protein-coding genes.

Using a combination of genetic and expression analysis, researchers have found that most intergenic lncRNAs do not originate from promoters but rather from enhancers. These lncRNAs are co-expressed with corresponding messenger RNAs with overlapping expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL)-associated single nucleotide polymorphisms. Furthermore, they are expressed in cell types relevant to the traits, with implications in multiple diseases.

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