A single cell but many different transcripts: A journey into the world of long non-coding RNAs

Enrico Alessio, Raphael Severino Bonadio, Lisa Buson, Francesco Chemello, Stefano Cagnin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


In late 2012 it was evidenced that most of the human genome is transcribed but only a small percentage of the transcripts are translated. This observation supported the importance of non-coding RNAs and it was confirmed in several organisms. The most abundant non-translated transcripts are long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs). In contrast to protein-coding RNAs, they show a more cell-specific expression. To understand the function of lncRNAs, it is fundamental to investigate in which cells they are preferentially expressed and to detect their subcellular localization. Recent improvements of techniques that localize single RNA molecules in tissues like single-cell RNA sequencing and fluorescence amplification methods have given a considerable boost in the knowledge of the lncRNA functions. In recent years, single-cell transcription variability was associated with non-coding RNA expression, revealing this class of RNAs as important transcripts in the cell lineage specification. The purpose of this review is to collect updated information about lncRNA classification and new findings on their function derived from singlecell analysis. We also retained useful for all researchers to describe the methods available for singlecell analysis and the databases collecting single-cell and lncRNA data. Tables are included to schematize, describe, and compare exposed concepts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number302
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • LncRNA database
  • LncRNAs
  • Long noncoding RNAs
  • Non-coding RNAs
  • Single-cell
  • Single-cell database
  • Single-cell expression
  • Single-cell sequencing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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