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Science 294 (5543): 862-864

Copyright © 2001 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

An Extensive Class of Small RNAs in Caenorhabditis elegans

Rosalind C. Lee, Victor Ambros*

The lin-4 and let-7 antisense RNAs are temporal regulators that control the timing of developmental events in Caenorhabditis elegans by inhibiting translation of target mRNAs. let-7 RNA is conserved among bilaterian animals, suggesting that this class of small RNAs [microRNAs (miRNAs)] is evolutionarily ancient. Using bioinformatics and cDNA cloning, we found 15 new miRNA genes in C. elegans. Several of these genes express small transcripts that vary in abundance during C. elegans larval development, and three of them have apparent homologs in mammals and/or insects. Small noncoding RNAs of the miRNA class appear to be numerous and diverse.

Dartmouth Medical School, Department of Genetics, Hanover, NH 03755, USA.
*   To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: vambros{at}

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