Long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) are a heterogeneous class of transcripts, longer than 200 nucleotides, 5′-capped, polyadenylated, and poorly conserved among mammalian species. Several studies have shown the contribution of lncRNAs to different cellular processes, including regulation of the chromatin structure, control of messenger RNA translation, regulation of gene transcription, regulation of embryonic pluripotency, and differentiation. Although limited numbers of functional lncRNAs have been identified so far, the immense regulatory potential of these RNAs is already evident, indicating that a functional characterization of lncRNAs is needed. In this study, mouse preosteoblastic cells were induced to differentiate into osteoblasts. At 3 sequential differentiation stages, total RNA was isolated and libraries were constructed for Illumina sequencing. The resulting sequences were aligned and transcript abundances were determined. New lncRNA candidates that displayed differential expression patterns during osteoblast differentiation were identified by combining bioinformatics and reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction analyses. Among these, lncRNA-1 that exhibited increased expression during osteogenesis and was downregulated during myogenesis. Importantly, knockdown of lncRNA-1 expression in primary mouse preosteoblasts was found to inhibit osteogenic differentiation, reflected by a reduced transcription of the Runx2/p57 and Sp7 bone master genes. Together, our results indicate that lncRNA-1 represents a new regulatory RNA that plays a relevant role during the early stages of osteogenesis.
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