Sci. STKE, 30 October 2001
Regulatory RNA Tiny RNA World Discovered
Two small temporal RNAs (stRNAs), let-7 and lin-4, play an important role in the development of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Let-7 is also highly conserved throughout bilateral animals, including Drosophila and humans. Are there other small regulatory RNAs? Three reports by Lagos-Quintana et al., Lau et al., and Lee et al. indicate that there are a very large number (>60) of these tiny ~22-nucleotide microRNAs (miRNAs) and that they have molecular characteristics similar to the two known stRNAs. The miRNAs are developmentally and tissue-specifically expressed and are conserved between different organisms. Some of the RNAs are organized in an operon-like fashion and may be processed from a single precursor. In a Perspective, Ruvkun calls the RNAs the "biological equivalent of dark matter" and suggests that they may provide a potent means for regulating gene expression.
G. Ruvkun, Glimpses of a tiny RNA world. Science 294, 797-799 (2001). [Full Text]
Citation: Tiny RNA World Discovered. Sci. STKE 2001, tw400 (2001).
Science Signaling. ISSN 1937-9145 (online), 1945-0877 (print). Pre-2008: Science's STKE. ISSN 1525-8882