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      Principles of MicroRNA–Target Recognition

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          Abstract

          MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are short non-coding RNAs that regulate gene expression in plants and animals. Although their biological importance has become clear, how they recognize and regulate target genes remains less well understood. Here, we systematically evaluate the minimal requirements for functional miRNA–target duplexes in vivo and distinguish classes of target sites with different functional properties. Target sites can be grouped into two broad categories. 5′ dominant sites have sufficient complementarity to the miRNA 5′ end to function with little or no support from pairing to the miRNA 3′ end. Indeed, sites with 3′ pairing below the random noise level are functional given a strong 5′ end. In contrast, 3′ compensatory sites have insufficient 5′ pairing and require strong 3′ pairing for function. We present examples and genome-wide statistical support to show that both classes of sites are used in biologically relevant genes. We provide evidence that an average miRNA has approximately 100 target sites, indicating that miRNAs regulate a large fraction of protein-coding genes and that miRNA 3′ ends are key determinants of target specificity within miRNA families.

          Abstract

          MicroRNA target site recognition falls into two broad categories: 5' dominant sites that require little support from microRNA 3' end; and 3' compensatory sites that require strong 3' pairing to function

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          Most cited references 33

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          Prediction of mammalian microRNA targets.

          MicroRNAs (miRNAs) can play important gene regulatory roles in nematodes, insects, and plants by basepairing to mRNAs to specify posttranscriptional repression of these messages. However, the mRNAs regulated by vertebrate miRNAs are all unknown. Here we predict more than 400 regulatory target genes for the conserved vertebrate miRNAs by identifying mRNAs with conserved pairing to the 5' region of the miRNA and evaluating the number and quality of these complementary sites. Rigorous tests using shuffled miRNA controls supported a majority of these predictions, with the fraction of false positives estimated at 31% for targets identified in human, mouse, and rat and 22% for targets identified in pufferfish as well as mammals. Eleven predicted targets (out of 15 tested) were supported experimentally using a HeLa cell reporter system. The predicted regulatory targets of mammalian miRNAs were enriched for genes involved in transcriptional regulation but also encompassed an unexpectedly broad range of other functions.
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            Posttranscriptional regulation of the heterochronic gene lin-14 by lin-4 mediates temporal pattern formation in C. elegans.

            During C. elegans development, the temporal pattern of many cell lineages is specified by graded activity of the heterochronic gene Lin-14. Here we demonstrate that a temporal gradient in Lin-14 protein is generated posttranscriptionally by multiple elements in the lin-14 3'UTR that are regulated by the heterochronic gene Lin-4. The lin-14 3'UTR is both necessary and sufficient to confer lin-4-mediated posttranscriptional temporal regulation. The function of the lin-14 3'UTR is conserved between C. elegans and C. briggsae. Among the conserved sequences are seven elements that are each complementary to the lin-4 RNAs. A reporter gene bearing three of these elements shows partial temporal gradient activity. These data suggest a molecular mechanism for Lin-14p temporal gradient formation: the lin-4 RNAs base pair to sites in the lin-14 3'UTR to form multiple RNA duplexes that down-regulate lin-14 translation.
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              Argonaute2 is the catalytic engine of mammalian RNAi.

              Gene silencing through RNA interference (RNAi) is carried out by RISC, the RNA-induced silencing complex. RISC contains two signature components, small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) and Argonaute family proteins. Here, we show that the multiple Argonaute proteins present in mammals are both biologically and biochemically distinct, with a single mammalian family member, Argonaute2, being responsible for messenger RNA cleavage activity. This protein is essential for mouse development, and cells lacking Argonaute2 are unable to mount an experimental response to siRNAs. Mutations within a cryptic ribonuclease H domain within Argonaute2, as identified by comparison with the structure of an archeal Argonaute protein, inactivate RISC. Thus, our evidence supports a model in which Argonaute contributes "Slicer" activity to RISC, providing the catalytic engine for RNAi.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                PLoS Biol
                pbio
                PLoS Biology
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
                1544-9173
                1545-7885
                March 2005
                15 February 2005
                : 3
                : 3
                Affiliations
                1simpleEuropean Molecular Biology Laboratory HeidelbergGermany
                Article
                10.1371/journal.pbio.0030085
                1043860
                15723116
                Copyright: © 2005 Brennecke et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited
                Categories
                Research Article
                Bioinformatics/Computational Biology
                Cell Biology
                Genetics/Genomics/Gene Therapy
                Molecular Biology/Structural Biology
                Eukaryotes
                Drosophila

                Life sciences

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