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      Regulation of microRNA function in animals

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      Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology

      Springer Nature America, Inc

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          Abstract

          <p class="first" id="P3">Since their serendipitous discovery in nematodes, microRNAs (miRNAs) have emerged as key regulators of biological processes in animals. These small RNAs form complex regulatory networks in cell development, differentiation and homeostasis. Deregulation of miRNA function is associated with an increasing number of human diseases, particularly cancer. Recent discoveries have expanded our understanding of how miRNAs are regulated. Here we review the mechanisms that modulate miRNA activity, their stability and their localization through alternative processing, sequence editing, post-translational modifications of Argonaute proteins, viral factors, transport from the cytoplasm and regulation of miRNA–target interactions. We conclude by discussing intriguing open questions to be answered by future research. </p>

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          Most cited references 175

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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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            A coding-independent function of gene and pseudogene mRNAs regulates tumour biology

            The canonical role of messenger RNA (mRNA) is to deliver protein-coding information to sites of protein synthesis. However, given that microRNAs bind to RNAs, we hypothesized that RNAs possess a biological role in cancer cells that relies upon their ability to compete for microRNA binding and is independent of their protein-coding function. As a paradigm for the protein-coding-independent role of RNAs, we describe the functional relationship between the mRNAs produced by the PTEN tumour suppressor gene and its pseudogene (PTENP1) and the critical consequences of this interaction. We find that PTENP1 is biologically active as determined by its ability to regulate cellular levels of PTEN, and that it can exert a growth-suppressive role. We also show that PTENP1 locus is selectively lost in human cancer. We extend our analysis to other cancer-related genes that possess pseudogenes, such as oncogenic KRAS. Further, we demonstrate that the transcripts of protein coding genes such as PTEN are also biologically active. Together, these findings attribute a novel biological role to expressed pseudogenes, as they can regulate coding gene expression, and reveal a non-coding function for mRNAs.
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              An abundant class of tiny RNAs with probable regulatory roles in Caenorhabditis elegans.

              Two small temporal RNAs (stRNAs), lin-4 and let-7, control developmental timing in Caenorhabditis elegans. We find that these two regulatory RNAs are members of a large class of 21- to 24-nucleotide noncoding RNAs, called microRNAs (miRNAs). We report on 55 previously unknown miRNAs in C. elegans. The miRNAs have diverse expression patterns during development: a let-7 paralog is temporally coexpressed with let-7; miRNAs encoded in a single genomic cluster are coexpressed during embryogenesis; and still other miRNAs are expressed constitutively throughout development. Potential orthologs of several of these miRNA genes were identified in Drosophila and human genomes. The abundance of these tiny RNAs, their expression patterns, and their evolutionary conservation imply that, as a class, miRNAs have broad regulatory functions in animals.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology
                Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol
                Springer Nature America, Inc
                1471-0072
                1471-0080
                August 14 2018
                Article
                10.1038/s41580-018-0045-7
                6546304
                30108335
                © 2018

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