Although the definition of a noncoding RNA (ncRNA) is an RNA molecule that does not encode a protein, recent evidence has revealed that some ncRNAs are indeed translated to give rise to small polypeptides (usually containing fewer than 100 amino acids). Despite their small size, however, these peptides are often biologically relevant in that they are required for a variety of cellular processes. In this review, we summarize the production and functions of peptides that have been recently identified as translation products of putative ncRNAs.
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