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Nature. 2005 Dec 1;438(7068):671-4.

The microRNA miR-196 acts upstream of Hoxb8 and Shh in limb development.

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Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, 77 Avenue Louis Pasteur, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are an abundant class of gene regulatory molecules (reviewed in refs 1, 2). Although computational work indicates that miRNAs repress more than a third of human genes, their roles in vertebrate development are only now beginning to be determined. Here we show that miR-196 acts upstream of Hoxb8 and Sonic hedgehog (Shh) in vivo in the context of limb development, thereby identifying a previously observed but uncharacterized inhibitory activity that operates specifically in the hindlimb. Our data indicate that miR-196 functions in a fail-safe mechanism to assure the fidelity of expression domains that are primarily regulated at the transcriptional level, supporting the idea that many vertebrate miRNAs may function as a secondary level of gene regulation.

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