1 Introduction</h5> MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are comprised of a family of small single-stranded nonprotein-coding RNAs (20–25 nucleotides) that have emerged as key negative post-transcriptional regulators of gene expression (reviewed in Bartel, 2009; Bushati and Cohen, 2007 ). Currently, 2042 miRNAs have been annotated in humans (miRBase: http://www.mirbase.org/index.shtml , release #19, August 2012) and computational predictions indicate that miRNAs may regulate the expression of 60% of all human protein coding genes ( Friedman et al., 2009 ). Recently, several general principles regarding miRNAs and target mRNA regulation have emerged. First, each miRNA can act upon numerous target mRNAs ( Bartel, 2009; Bushati and Cohen, 2007 ). Second, individual mRNAs are commonly targeted by multiple miRNAs which allows for enormous combinatorial complexity and regulatory potential ( Dombkowski et al., 2011; Forrest et al., 2010; Hon and Zhang, 2007; Krek et al., 2005 ). Third, computational predicted miRNA/mRNA targets are not necessarily restricted to a particular functional category or biological pathway ( Bartel, 2009; Bushati and Cohen, 2007 ). Finally, miRNAs seem to have the primary responsibility of “fine-tuning” gene expression in the regulation of development and tissue homeostasis (reviewed in Liu and Olson, 2010 ), and recent studies suggest that miRNA
Gene – Elsevier
Published: Dec 10, 2013
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