Plant microRNA: A small regulatory molecule with big impact

Baohong Zhang, Xiaoping Pan, George P. Cobb, Todd A. Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

537 Scopus citations


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are an abundant new class of non-coding ∼20-24 nt small RNAs. To date, 872 miRNAs, belonging to 42 families, have been identified in 71 plant species by genetic screening, direct cloning after isolation of small RNAs, computational strategy, and expressed sequence tag (EST) analysis. Many plant miRNAs are evolutionarily conserved from species to species, some from angiosperms to mosses. miRNAs may originate from inverted duplications of target gene sequences in plants. Although miRNA precursors display high variability, their mature sequences display extensive sequence complementarity to their target mRNA sequences. miRNAs play important roles in plant post-transcriptional gene regulation by targeting mRNAs for cleavage or repressing translation. miRNAs are involved in plant development, signal transduction, protein degradation, response to environmental stress and pathogen invasion, and regulate their own biogenesis. miRNAs regulate the expression of many important genes; a majority of these genes are transcriptional factors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-16
Number of pages14
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2006


  • Development
  • Environmental stress
  • Gene regulation
  • Plant
  • Signal transduction
  • microRNA


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