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Sci. STKE, 2 January 2007
Vol. 2007, Issue 367, p. re1
[DOI: 10.1126/stke.3672007re1]

REVIEWS

How Do MicroRNAs Regulate Gene Expression?

Richard J. Jackson* and Nancy Standart*

Department of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge, 80 Tennis Court Road, Cambridge CB2 1GA, UK.

Gloss: The human genome encodes several hundred short (~21 residue) microRNAs (miRNAs), which are predicted to collectively regulate several thousand distinct genes, amounting to about one-third of all human genes. MicroRNAs generally interact with their target mRNAs through imperfect or incomplete complementary base-pairing to sites in the 3'-untranslated region of the messenger RNA (mRNA), which are usually present in multiple copies. These interactions result in a decrease in synthesis of the protein encoded by the mRNA, but until very recently, little was known about the mechanism(s) of this repression. An miRNA can decrease the intracellular concentration of its target mRNAs by accelerating the normal process of mRNA degradation and can inhibit the translation or decoding of the target mRNA, with the relative importance of these two mechanisms differing between different miRNA-mRNA pairs. The mechanism of inhibition of translation remains controversial, with some data pointing to inhibition of the translation initiation step, and other results indicative of inhibition at some later stage during the actual decoding of the mRNA sequence. This article reviews these recent data, discusses the controversies that remain unresolved, and makes suggestions for future research.

*E-mail: rjj{at}mole.bio.cam.ac.uk (R.J.J.); nms{at}mole.bio.cam.ac.uk (N.S.)

Citation: R. J. Jackson, N. Standart, How Do MicroRNAs Regulate Gene Expression? Sci. STKE 2007, re1 (2007).


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