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J Cell Biol. 2002 Jan 7;156(1):17-21. Epub 2002 Jan 7.

Micro-RNAs: small is plentiful.

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  • 1Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520, USA.


Two small temporally regulated RNAs (stRNAs)* of approximately 22 nucleotides regulate timing of gene expression during development of the nematode C. elegans. This regulation occurs at a posttranscriptional, presumably translational, level and is distinct from RNA interference (RNAi). One of the two stRNAs, let-7, as well as its target gene, lin-41, are highly conserved even in humans, suggesting a wide employment of stRNA-mediated gene regulation. Recent reports indicate that these two stRNAs are indeed likely to represent only the tip of an iceberg with hundreds or more of additional micro-RNAs (miRNAs) existing in metazoans. miRNAs might thus be previously underestimated key participants in the field of gene regulation.

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