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Science. 2003 Jul 18;301(5631):336-8.

Role of microRNAs in plant and animal development.

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  • 1Center for Gene Research and Biotechnology, and Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA.


Small RNAs, including microRNAs (miRNAs) and short interfering RNAs (siRNAs), are key components of an evolutionarily conserved system of RNA-based gene regulation in eukaryotes. They are involved in many molecular interactions, including defense against viruses and regulation of gene expression during development. miRNAs interfere with expression of messenger RNAs encoding factors that control developmental timing, stem cell maintenance, and other developmental and physiological processes in plants and animals. miRNAs are negative regulators that function as specificity determinants, or guides, within complexes that inhibit protein synthesis (animals) or promote degradation (plants) of mRNA targets.

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