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Curr Opin Plant Biol. 2007 Oct;10(5):503-11. Epub 2007 Aug 20.

Conservation and evolution of miRNA regulatory programs in plant development.

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Plant Science Institute, Department of Biology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6018, USA.


Over the past two years, microarray technologies, large-scale small RNA and whole genome sequencing projects, and data mining have provided a wealth of information about the spectrum of miRNAs and miRNA targets present in different plant species and the alga Chlamydomonas. Such studies have shown that a number of key miRNA regulatory modules for plant development are conserved throughout the plant kingdom, suggesting that these programs were crucial to the colonization of land. New genetic and biochemical studies of miRNA pathways in Arabidopsis, the spatiotemporal expression patterns of several conserved miRNAs and their targets, and the characterization of mutations in Arabidopsis and maize have begun to reveal the functions of these ancient miRNA-regulated developmental programs. In addition to these conserved miRNAs, there are many clade and species-specific miRNAs, which have evolved more recently and whose functions are currently unknown.

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