During the last decade, it has become increasingly clear that the human genome is pervasively transcribed, resulting in the production of thousands of non-coding RNA transcripts. A specific subgroup of small non-coding RNAs called microRNAs have been studied extensively and turn out to be implicated in virtually every aspect of cancer biology. In contrast, a larger (and more recently discovered) class of long non-coding RNA molecules (lncRNAs) remains largely unexplored. With this project proposal, we aim to identify and characterize lncRNAs implicated in different cancer entities. Candidate tumour suppressor and oncogenic lncRNAs will be pinpointed by means of systematic lncRNA gene copy number and expression profiling in cellular cancer model systems and primary cancer cells.
The specific function of candidate cancer lncRNAs will subsequently be investigated through
in vitro and in vivo lncRNA perturbation experiments. LncRNAs with proven tumour
suppressive or oncogenic properties will be characterized in more detail with the specific aim to elucidate the lncRNA interactome and connected pathways. A focused and detailed study of lncRNAs in cancer could provide novel insights in cancer biology and yield attractive targets for therapeutic intervention.