Comparative transcriptome approaches assume that highly or dynamically expressed genes are important. This has led to the identification of many genes critical for cellular activity and organism development. However, while testes express the highest levels of long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs), there is scarcely any evidence for lncRNAs with significant roles in fertility. This was explained by changes in chromatin structure during spermatogenesis that lead to ‘promiscuous transcription’ with no functional roles for the transcripts. Recent discoveries offer novel and surprising alternatives. Here, I review the current knowledge regarding the involvement of lncRNAs in fertility, why I find gametogenesis different from other developmental processes, offer models to explain why the experimental evidence did not meet theoretical predictions, and suggest possible approaches to test the models.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
I thank the members of the Tzur laboratory, Daniel Sher and Noa Sher, for their help in discussing and proofreading the manuscript and Yarden Ben-Tabou de-Leon for professional graphic work. This work was supported by the Israel Science Foundation (grant number 979/21 ), Ministry of Science and Technology, Israel (grant number 100594 ), and the Shemesh Fund.
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