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Nat Commun. 2012;3:1145. doi: 10.1038/ncomms2146.

Evolution of the human-specific microRNA miR-941.

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1
CAS Key Laboratory of Computational Biology, CAS-MPG Partner Institute for Computational Biology, 320 Yue Yang Road, Shanghai 200031, China.

Abstract

MicroRNA-mediated gene regulation is important in many physiological processes. Here we explore the roles of a microRNA, miR-941, in human evolution. We find that miR-941 emerged de novo in the human lineage, between six and one million years ago, from an evolutionarily volatile tandem repeat sequence. Its copy-number remains polymorphic in humans and shows a trend for decreasing copy-number with migration out of Africa. Emergence of miR-941 was accompanied by accelerated loss of miR-941-binding sites, presumably to escape regulation. We further show that miR-941 is highly expressed in pluripotent cells, repressed upon differentiation and preferentially targets genes in hedgehog- and insulin-signalling pathways, thus suggesting roles in cellular differentiation. Human-specific effects of miR-941 regulation are detectable in the brain and affect genes involved in neurotransmitter signalling. Taken together, these results implicate miR-941 in human evolution, and provide an example of rapid regulatory evolution in the human linage.

PMID:
23093182
PMCID:
PMC3493648
DOI:
10.1038/ncomms2146
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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