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Science. 2001 Oct 26;294(5543):853-8.

Identification of novel genes coding for small expressed RNAs.

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  • 1Department of Cellular Biochemistry, Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Am Fassberg 11, D-37077 Göttingen, Germany.


In Caenorhabditis elegans, lin-4 and let-7 encode 22- and 21-nucleotide (nt) RNAs, respectively, which function as key regulators of developmental timing. Because the appearance of these short RNAs is regulated during development, they are also referred to as small temporal RNAs (stRNAs). We show that many 21- and 22-nt expressed RNAs, termed microRNAs, exist in invertebrates and vertebrates and that some of these novel RNAs, similar to let-7 stRNA, are highly conserved. This suggests that sequence-specific, posttranscriptional regulatory mechanisms mediated by small RNAs are more general than previously appreciated.

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