A search for early response genes that are activated following germ cell induction from mouse embryonic stem cells in vitro led us to the isolation of a long noncoding RNA that contains a SINE (short interspersed element)-B1F motif that was named R53. In situ hybridization and northern blot analyses revealed that the R53 subfragment RNA bears a B1F motif, is processed from the primary transcript, is expressed in adult testis and is predominantly localized in meiotic metaphase chromatin during spermatogenesis. Recent studies of chromosome- associated RNAs have explored novel functions of noncoding RNAs. Specifically, chromosome-bound noncoding RNAs function not only as structural components of chromosome but also as scaffolds that recruit epigenetic modulators for transcriptional regulation, and they are dynamically rearranged during the cell cycle. However, few studies have explored meiotic chromatin; thus, R53 RNA appears to be the first long noncoding RNA to be tightly associated with the metaphase chromatin during spermatogenesis. Furthermore, R53 knockdown using a lentivirus-mediated RNAi injected into mouse testis and organ culture of the fragments revealed a remarkable reduction in postmeiotic cells and irregular upregulation of several postmeiotic genes, which suggests the possibility that the SINE-B1- derived noncoding RNA R53 plays an indispensable role in the transcriptional regulation of key spermatogenesis genes.
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