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Biochimie. 2011 Nov;93(11):1897-904. doi: 10.1016/j.biochi.2011.06.017. Epub 2011 Jun 21.

Mirtrons: microRNA biogenesis via splicing.

Author information

1
Department of Developmental Biology, Sloan-Kettering Institute, 1275 York Ave, Box 252, NY 10065, USA.

Abstract

A well-defined mechanism governs the maturation of most microRNAs (miRNAs) in animals, via stepwise cleavage of precursor hairpin transcripts by the Drosha and Dicer RNase III enzymes. Recently, several alternative miRNA biogenesis pathways were elucidated, the most prominent of which substitutes Drosha cleavage with splicing. Such short hairpin introns are known as mirtrons, and their study has uncovered related pathways that combine splicing with other ribonucleolytic machinery to yield Dicer substrates for miRNA biogenesis. In this review, we consider the mechanisms of splicing-mediated miRNA biogenesis, computational strategies for mirtron discovery, and the evolutionary implications of the existence of multiple miRNA biogenesis pathways. Altogether, the features of mirtron pathways illustrate unexpected flexibility in combining RNA processing pathways, and highlight how multiple functions can be encoded by individual transcripts.

PMID:
21712066
PMCID:
PMC3185189
DOI:
10.1016/j.biochi.2011.06.017
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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