Origins and mechanisms of miRNAs and siRNAs
Over the last decade, approximately 20-30 nucleotide RNA molecules have emerged as critical regulators in the expression and function of eukaryotic genomes. Two primary categories of these small RNAs--short interfering RNAs (siRNAs) and microRNAs (miRNAs)--act in both somatic and germline lineages in a broad range of eukaryotic species to regulate endogenous genes and to defend the genome from invasive nucleic acids. Recent advances have revealed unexpected diversity in their biogenesis pathways and the regulatory mechanisms that they access. Our understanding of siRNA- and miRNA-based regulation has direct implications for fundamental biology as well as disease etiology and treatment.