Dorsal closure is an epithelial remodeling process taking place during Drosophila embryogenesis. JNK signaling coordinates dorsal closure. We identify and characterize acal as a novel negative dorsal closure regulator. acal represents a new level of JNK regulation. The acal locus codes for a conserved, long, non-coding, nuclear RNA. Long non-coding RNAs are an abundant and diverse class of gene regulators. Mutations in acal are lethal. acal mRNA expression is dynamic and is processed into a collection of 50 to 120 bp fragments. We show that acal lies downstream of raw, a pioneer protein, helping explain part of raw functions, and interacts genetically with Polycomb. acal functions in trans regulating mRNA expression of two genes involved in JNK signaling and dorsal closure: Connector of kinase to AP1 (Cka) and anterior open (aop). Cka is a conserved scaffold protein that brings together JNK and Jun, and aop is a transcription factor. Misregulation of Cka and aop can account for dorsal closure phenotypes in acal mutants.