Distinct ribonucleoprotein reservoirs for microRNA and siRNA populations in C. elegans

Sam G. Gu, Julia Pak, Sergio Barberan-Soler, Mustapha Ali, Andrew Fire, Alan M. Zahler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are regulatory molecules that share both biosynthetic derivation (cleavage from short hairpin precursor RNAs) and functional roles (downregulation of specific mRNAs through targeted degradation and/or translational inhibition). A distinct family of small RNAs, termed siRNAs, have some common characteristics but exhibit distinct modes of biosynthesis and function. In this study, we report procedures for purification of a predominant species of miRNA-containing ribonucleoprotein complexes from Caenorhabditis elegans and demonstrate that this population is distinct from the predominant pool of siRNA-containing ribonucleoprotein complexes. An observed miRNP-associated RNA population consisting predominantly (>95%) of miRNAs supported the unique identity of miRNPs as biological effectors within the cell, provided clean material for analysis of changes in miRNA spectra during development, and provided strong evidence of miRNA character for a number of novel small RNAs. Likewise, the RNA spectrum derived from partial siRNP purification was useful in defining functional characteristics of this more diverse population of small RNAs. Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1492-1504
Number of pages13
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2007
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology


  • Microarray
  • Small RNA cloning
  • miRNA
  • miRNP purification
  • siRNA


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