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Birth Defects Res C Embryo Today. 2006 Jun;78(2):107-17.

Role of miRNA and miRNA processing factors in development and disease.

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  • 1Ambion, Inc., an Applied Biosystems Business, Austin, 78744, USA.


Mature microRNAs (miRNAs) are single-stranded RNA molecules of 17-24 nucleotides (nt) in length that are encoded in the genomes of plants and animals. The seminal discoveries of miRNA made in C. elegans have led the way to the rampant discoveries being made today in this field. Since each miRNA is predicted and in some cases confirmed to regulate multiple genes, the potential regulatory circuitry afforded by miRNAs is thought to be enormous and could amount to regulation of >30% of all human genes. Due to the sequences of many of the miRNAs being highly homologous among organisms, the huge potential of miRNAs to regulate gene expression, and the hints of miRNAs being useful in both diagnostics and therapeutics, it is no wonder these small RNAs are gaining such popularity in both the academic and industrial settings. It is now becoming clear that the miRNA gene class represents a very important gene regulatory network. This article reviews the initial discoveries of miRNA that began in the nematode C. elegans, and extends into what is known about miRNAs and miRNA processing factors in mouse development and human disease.

Copyright 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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