Article

Small regulatory RNAs in mammals

Institute for Molecular Bioscience, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Human Molecular Genetics (Impact Factor: 6.68). 05/2005; 14 Spec No 1:R121-32. DOI: 10.1093/hmg/ddi101
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Mammalian cells harbor numerous small non-protein-coding RNAs, including small nucleolar RNAs (snoRNAs), microRNAs (miRNAs), short interfering RNAs (siRNAs) and small double-stranded RNAs, which regulate gene expression at many levels including chromatin architecture, RNA editing, RNA stability, translation, and quite possibly transcription and splicing. These RNAs are processed by multistep pathways from the introns and exons of longer primary transcripts, including protein-coding transcripts. Most show distinctive temporal- and tissue-specific expression patterns in different tissues, including embryonal stem cells and the brain, and some are imprinted. Small RNAs control a wide range of developmental and physiological pathways in animals, including hematopoietic differentiation, adipocyte differentiation and insulin secretion in mammals, and have been shown to be perturbed in cancer and other diseases. The extent of transcription of non-coding sequences and the abundance of small RNAs suggests the existence of an extensive regulatory network on the basis of RNA signaling which may underpin the development and much of the phenotypic variation in mammals and other complex organisms and which may have different genetic signatures from sequences encoding proteins.

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