Proteins that bind both DNA and RNA typify the ability of a single gene product to perform multiple functions. Such DNA- and RNA-binding proteins (DRBPs) have unique functional characteristics that stem from their specific structural features; these developed early in evolution and are widely conserved. Proteins that bind RNA have typically been considered as functionally distinct from proteins that bind DNA and studied independently. This practice is becoming outdated, in partly owing to the discovery of long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) that target DNA-binding proteins. Consequently, DRBPs were found to regulate many cellular processes, including transcription, translation, gene silencing, microRNA biogenesis and telomere maintenance.