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David W Scoville, Artiom Gruzdev, and Anton M Jetten

Recent advances in high throughput RNA sequencing have revealed that, in addition to messenger RNAs (mRNAs), long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) play an important role in the regulation of many cell functions and of organ development. While a number of lncRNAs have been identified in pancreatic islets, their function remains largely undetermined. Here, we identify a novel long ncRNA regulated by the transcription factor GLIS3, which we refer to as GLIS3 regulated 1 (G3R1). This lncRNA was identified for its significant loss of expression in GLIS3 knockout mouse pancreatic islets. G3R1 appears to be specifically expressed in mouse pancreatic β-cells and in a β-cell line (βTC-6). ChIP-seq analysis indicated that GLIS3 and other islet-enriched transcription factors bind near the G3R1 gene, suggesting they directly regulate G3R1 transcription. Similarly, an apparent human homolog of G3R1 displays a similar expression pattern, with additional expression seen in human brain. In order to determine the function of G3R1 in mouse pancreatic β-cells, we utilized CRISPR to develop a knockout mouse where ~80% of G3R1 sequence is deleted. Phenotypic analysis of these mice did not reveal any impairment in β-cell function or glucose regulation, indicating the complexity underlying the study of lncRNA function.