Regulation of osteogenesis by long noncoding RNAs: An epigenetic mechanism contributing to bone formation.

Long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) have recently emerged as novel regulators of lineage commitment, differentiation, development, viability, and disease progression. Few studies have examined their role in osteogenesis; however, given their critical and wide-ranging roles in other tissues, lncRNAs are most likely vital regulators of osteogenesis. In this study, we extensively characterized lncRNA expression in mesenchymal cells during commitment and differentiation to the osteoblast lineage using a whole transcriptome sequencing approach (RNA-Seq). Using mouse primary mesenchymal stromal cells (mMSC), we identified 1438 annotated lncRNAs expressed during MSC differentiation, 462 of which are differentially expressed. We performed guilt-by-association analysis using lncRNA and mRNA expression profiles to identify lncRNAs influencing MSC commitment and differentiation. These findings open novel dimensions for exploring lncRNAs in regulating normal bone formation and in skeletal disorders.