Background: A great mass of long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) have been identified in mouse genome and increasing evidences in the last decades have revealed their crucial roles in diverse biological processes. Nevertheless, the biological roles of lncRNAs in the mouse retina remains largely unknown due to the lack of a comprehensive annotation of lncRNAs expressed in the retina. Results: In this study, we applied the long-reads sequencing strategy to unravel the transcriptomes of developing mouse retinas and identified a total of 940 intergenic lncRNAs (lincRNAs) in embryonic and neonatal retinas, including about 13% of them were transcribed from unannotated gene loci. Subsequent analysis revealed that function of lincRNAs expressed in mouse retinas were closely related to the physiological roles of this tissue, including 90 lincRNAs that were differentially expressed after the functional loss of key regulators of retinal ganglion cell (RGC) differentiation. In situ hybridization results demonstrated the enrichment of three class IV POU-homeobox genes adjacent lincRNAs (linc-3a, linc-3b and linc-3c) in ganglion cell layer and indicated they were potentially RGC-specific. Conclusions: In summary, this study systematically annotated the lincRNAs expressed in embryonic and neonatal mouse retinas and implied their crucial regulatory roles in retinal development such as RGC differentiation.
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