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Small nucleolar RNAs (snoRNAs) are non-coding RNAs involved in RNA modification and processing. Approximately half of the so far identified snoRNA genes map within the intronic regions of host genes, and their expression, as well as the expression of their host genes, is dependent on transcript splicing and maturation. Growing evidence indicates that mutations and/or deregulations that affect snoRNAs, as well as host genes, play a significant role in oncogenesis. Among the possible factors underlying snoRNA/host gene expression deregulation is copy number alteration (CNA). We analyzed the data available in The Cancer Genome Atlas database, relative to CNA and expression of 295 snoRNA/host gene couples in 10 cancer types, to understand whether the genetic or expression alteration of snoRNAs and their matched host genes would have overlapping trends. Our results show that, counterintuitively, copy number and expression alterations of snoRNAs and matched host genes are not necessarily coupled. In addition, some snoRNA/host genes are mutated and overexpressed recurrently in multiple cancer types. Our findings suggest that the differential contribution to cancer development of both snoRNAs and host genes should always be considered, and that snoRNAs and their host genes may contribute to cancer development in conjunction or independently.


Marianna Penzo, Rosanna Clima, Davide Trerè, Lorenzo Montanaro. Separated Siamese Twins: Intronic Small Nucleolar RNAs and Matched Host Genes May be Altered in Conjunction or Separately in Multiple Cancer Types. Cells. 2020 Feb 07;9(2)

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PMID: 32046192

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