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Animal. 2013 Oct;7(10):1567-75. doi: 10.1017/S1751731113001183. Epub 2013 Jul 3.

MicroRNAs in farm animals.

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Department of Life Science and Technology, Changshu Institute of Technology, Changshu 215500, P R China.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of ~22 nucleotide-long small noncoding RNAs that target mRNAs for translational repression or degradation. miRNAs target mRNAs by base-pairing with the 3'-untranslated regions (3'-UTRs) of mRNAs. miRNAs are present in various species, from animals to plants. In this review, we summarize the identification, expression, and function of miRNAs in four important farm animal species: cattle, chicken, pig and sheep. In each of these species, hundreds of miRNAs have been identified through homology search, small RNA cloning and next generation sequencing. Real-time RT-PCR and microarray experiments reveal that many miRNAs are expressed in a tissue-specific or spatiotemporal-specific manner in farm animals. Limited functional studies suggest that miRNAs have important roles in muscle development and hypertrophy, adipose tissue growth, oocyte maturation and early embryonic development in farm animals. Increasing evidence suggests that single-nucleotide polymorphisms in miRNA target sites or miRNA gene promoters may contribute to variation in production or health traits in farm animals.

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