Long intergenic non-coding RNAs (lincRNAs) are transcripts longer than 200 nucleotides that are transcribed from non-coding loci yet undergo biosynthesis similar to coding mRNAs. The disproportional number of lincRNAs expressed in testes suggests that lincRNAs are important during gametogenesis, but experimental evidence has implicated very few lincRNAs in this process. We took advantage of the relatively limited number of lincRNAs in the genome of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans to systematically analyse the functions of lincRNAs during meiosis. We deleted six lincRNA genes that are highly and dynamically expressed in the C. elegans gonad and tested the effects on central meiotic processes. Surprisingly, whereas the lincRNA deletions did not strongly impact fertility, germline apoptosis, crossovers, or synapsis, linc-4 was required for somatic growth. Slower growth was observed in linc-4-deletion mutants and in worms depleted of linc-4 using RNAi, indicating that linc-4 transcripts are required for this post-embryonic process. Unexpectedly, analysis of worms depleted of linc-4 in soma versus germline showed that the somatic role stems from linc-4 expression in germline cells. This unique feature suggests that some lincRNAs, like some small non-coding RNAs, are required for germ-soma interactions.
- non-coding RNA