The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 49: 733 - 744 (2005)

Vol 49, Issue 5-6

Special Issue: Plant Development

Plant microRNAs and development

Open Access | Published: 1 August 2005

Sara Jover-Gil, Héctor Candela and María-Rosa Ponce*

División de Genética and Instituto de Bioingeniería, Universidad Miguel Hernández, Campus de Elche, Alicante, Spain


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) act as negative regulators of gene expression in eukaryotes, a discovery that has opened an expanding field of biological research. Plant miRNAs are known to repress gene expression posttranscriptionally, mainly by guiding cleavage but also by attenuating the translation of target transcripts. In addition, it has been shown that plant miRNAs can also act at the transcriptional level by directing the methylation of target chromosomal loci. Genetic and biochemical approaches are quickly broadening our knowledge of the biogenesis and function of plant miRNAs. Computational approaches have uncovered an unexpectedly large number of miRNAs and their targets in plants. The targets of plant miRNAs often belong to families of transcription factors involved in the control of developmental processes. We review the status of research in this dynamic field, summarizing recent advances in our understanding of the biogenesis and mechanism of action of plant miRNAs, as well as in the developmental processes they regulate.


microRNA, Arabidopsis, plant development

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