Transition of a microRNA from Repressing to Activating Translation Depending on the Extent of Base Pairing with the Target

Saraiya, Ashesh A.; Li, Wei; Wang, Ching C.
February 2013
PLoS ONE;Feb2013, Vol. 8 Issue 2, p1
Academic Journal
MicroRNAs are major post-transcriptional regulators of gene expression. Here we show in the ancient protozoan Giardia lamblia a snoRNA-derived 26-nucleotide microRNA, miR3, which represses the translation of histone H2A mRNA containing an imperfect target but enhances translation when the target is made fully complementary. A stepwise mutational analysis of the fully complementary target showed that the activating effect of miR3 was significantly reduced when a single nucleotide at the 5′-end of the target was altered. The effect of miR3 became repressive when 12 of the nucleotides lost their complementation to miR3 with maximum repression reached when only 8 base-pairs remained between the miR3 seed sequence and the target. A synthetic 8-nucleotide RNA oligomer of the miR3 seed sequence was found capable of exerting a similar Argonaute-dependent translational repression. This is the first report showing a correlation between the extent of base-pairing with the target and a change in miRNA function.


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