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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2008 Nov;1779(11):663-7. doi: 10.1016/j.bbagrm.2008.08.005. Epub 2008 Aug 20.

MicroRNA biogenesis: there's more than one way to skin a cat.

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  • 1Department of Biological Chemistry, David Geffen School of Medicine, Molecular Biology Institute, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.


microRNAs (miRNAs) are extensively involved in developmental programming. Some miRNAs are highly conserved, while others are lineage specific. All miRNAs maturate through a series of processing steps. Here we review recent progresses in the studies of early steps in miRNA biogenesis, focusing on animal systems. The miRNA maturation pathways are surprisingly diverse, involving transcription by RNA polymerase II or III, cleavage by the Drosha nuclease or the spliceosome, and sometimes modifications by the adenosine deaminase ADAR. The relationship between the diversity in miRNA biogenesis and the apparently rapid evolution of miRNA genes and functions is discussed.

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