The number of long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) has grown rapidly; however, our understanding of their function remains limited. Although cultured cells have facilitated investigations of lncRNA function at the molecular level, the use of animal models provides a rich context in which to investigate the phenotypic impact of these molecules. Promising initial studies using animal models demonstrated that lncRNAs influence a diverse number of phenotypes, ranging from subtle dysmorphia to viability. Here, we highlight the diversity of animal models and their unique advantages, discuss the use of animal models to profile lncRNA expression, evaluate experimental strategies to manipulate lncRNA function in vivo, and review the phenotypes attributable to lncRNAs. Despite a limited number of studies leveraging animal models, lncRNAs are already recognized as a notable class of molecules with important implications for health and disease.
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