Non-coding 886 (nc886/vtRNA2-1), the epigenetic odd duck–implications for future studies

Research output: Contribution to journalReview Articlepeer-review


Non-coding 886 (nc886, vtRNA2–1) is the only human polymorphically imprinted gene, in which the methylation status is not determined by genetics. Existing literature regarding the establishment, stability and consequences of the methylation pattern, as well as the nature and function of the nc886 RNAs transcribed from the locus, are contradictory. For example, the methylation status of the locus has been reported to be stable through life and across somatic tissues, but also susceptible to environmental effects. The nature of the produced nc886 RNA(s) has been redefined multiple times, and in carcinogenesis, these RNAs have been reported to have conflicting roles. In addition, due to the bimodal methylation pattern of the nc886 locus, traditional genome-wide methylation analyses can lead to false-positive results, especially in smaller datasets. Herein, we aim to summarize the existing literature regarding nc886, discuss how the characteristics of nc886 give rise to contradictory results, as well as to reinterpret, reanalyse and, where possible, replicate the results presented in the current literature. We also introduce novel findings on how the distribution of the nc886 methylation pattern is associated with the geographical origins of the population and describe the methylation changes in a large variety of human tumours. Through the example of this one peculiar genetic locus and RNA, we aim to highlight issues in the analysis of DNA methylation and non-coding RNAs in general and offer our suggestions for what should be taken into consideration in future analyses.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2332819
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2024
Publication typeA2 Review article in a scientific journal


  • DNA methylation
  • epigenetics
  • nc886
  • non-coding RNA
  • vtRNA2–1

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cancer Research


Dive into the research topics of 'Non-coding 886 (nc886/vtRNA2-1), the epigenetic odd duck–implications for future studies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this