In eukaryotic organisms, noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs) have been implicated as important regulators of multifaceted biological processes, including transcriptional, posttranscriptional, and epigenetic regulation of gene expression. In recent years, it is becoming clear that protozoan parasites encode diverse ncRNA transcripts; however, little is known about their cellular functions. Recent advances in high-throughput "omic" studies identified many novel long ncRNAs (lncRNAs) in apicomplexan parasites, some of which undergo splicing, polyadenylation, and encode small proteins. To date, only a few of them are characterized, leaving a big gap in our understanding regarding their origin, mode of action, and functions in parasite biology. In this review, we focus on lncRNAs of the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum and highlight their cellular functions and possible mechanisms of action.
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