The novel long non-coding RNA CRG regulates Drosophila locomotor behavior
Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) that have no protein-coding capacity make up a large proportion of the transcriptome of various species. Many lncRNAs are expressed within the animal central nervous system in spatial- and temporal-specific patterns, indicating that lncRNAs play important roles in cellular processes, neural development, and even in cognitive and behavioral processes. However, relatively little is known about their in vivo functions and underlying molecular mechanisms in the nervous system. Here, we report a neural-specific Drosophila lncRNA, CASK regulatory gene (CRG), which participates in locomotor activity and climbing ability by positively regulating its neighboring gene CASK (Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase). CRG deficiency led to reduced locomotor activity and a defective climbing ability—phenotypes that are often seen in CASK mutant. CRG mutant also showed reduced CASK expression level while CASK over-expression could rescue the CRG mutant phenotypes in reciprocal. At the molecular level, CRG was required for the recruitment of RNA polymerase II to the CASK promoter regions, which in turn enhanced CASK expression. Our work has revealed new functional roles of lncRNAs and has provided insights to explore the pathogenesis of neurological diseases associated with movement disorders.