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Semin Cell Dev Biol. 2010 Sep;21(7):728-37. doi: 10.1016/j.semcdb.2010.07.001. Epub 2010 Jul 15.

The microRNAs of Caenorhabditis elegans.

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  • 1Wellcome Trust Cancer Research UK Gurdon Institute, University of Cambridge, The Henry Wellcome Building of Cancer and Developmental Biology, Cambridge, UK.


The soil nematode, Caenorhabditis elegans, occupies a central place in the short history of microRNA (miRNA) research. The converse is also true: miRNAs have emerged as key regulatory components in the life cycle of the worm, as well as numerous other organisms. Since the landmark discovery in 1993 of the first miRNA gene, lin-4, several other miRNAs have been characterized in detail in C. elegans and shown to participate in diverse biological processes. Moreover, the worm has provided, by virtue of its ease of genetic manipulation and amenability to high-throughput methods, an ideal platform for elucidating many general and conserved aspects of miRNA biology, namely mechanisms of biogenesis, target recognition, gene silencing, and regulation thereof. In this review, we summarize both the contribution of miRNAs to C. elegans physiology and development, as well as the contribution of C. elegans research to our understanding of general features of miRNA biology.

(c) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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