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Large families of RNA molecules of 21-22 nucleotides, called microRNAs, have been found in a number of species. In an Advanced Online Publication from Nature Genetics, Eric Lai from the University of California at Berkley, describes a family of microRNAs in Drosophila (18 March 2002, DOI:10.1038/ng865). He found that 11 DrosophilamicroRNAs are complementary to the K-box motif (cUGUGAUa), Brd box (AGCUUUA) and GY box (uGUCUUCC) motifs present in the 3' untranslated regions (UTRs) of several basic helix-loop-helix genes (bHLH). The microRNA may bind these sequences and mediate negative post-transcriptional regulation. The conservation of some microRNAs in man and worms will prompt work on defining a regulatory role for microRNA-3'UTR RNA duplexes.


  1. Identification of novel genes coding for small expressed RNAs.

  2. Nature Genetics, []

  3. University of California at Berkley , []

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Weitzman, J.B. MicroRNAs. Genome Biol 3, spotlight-20020328-03 (2002).

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  • Nucleotide
  • Untranslated Region
  • Regulatory Role
  • Large Family
  • Online Publication