Long noncoding RNAs represent a large class of transcripts with two common features: they exceed an arbitrary length threshold of 200 nt and are assumed to not encode proteins. Although a growing body of evidence indicates that the vast majority of lncRNAs are potentially nonfunctional, hundreds of them have already been revealed to perform essential gene regulatory functions or to be linked to a number of cellular processes, including those associated with the etiology of human diseases. To better understand the biology of lncRNAs, it is essential to perform a more in-depth study of their evolution. In contrast to protein-encoding transcripts, however, they do not show the strong sequence conservation that usually results from purifying selection; therefore, software that is typically used to resolve the evolutionary relationships of protein-encoding genes and transcripts is not applicable to the study of lncRNAs.

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