A microRNA in a multiple-turnover RNAi enzyme complex

Gyorgy Hutvagner, Phillip D. Zamore

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    1550 Citations (Scopus)


    In animals, the double-stranded RNA-specific endonuclease Dicer produces two classes of functionally distinct, tiny RNAs: microRNAs (miRNAs) and small interfering RNAs (siRNAs). miRNAs regulate mRNA translation, whereas siRNAs direct RNA destruction via the RNA interference (RNAi) pathway. Here we show that, in human cell extracts, the miRNA let-7 naturally enters the RNAi pathway, which suggests that only the degree of complementarity between a miRNA and its RNA target determines its function. Humanlet-7 is a component of a previously identified, miRNA-containing ribonucleoprotein particle, which we show is an RNAi enzyme complex. Each let-7–containing complex directs multiple rounds of RNA cleavage, which explains the remarkable efficiency of the RNAi pathway in human cells.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2056-2060
    Number of pages5
    Issue number5589
    Publication statusPublished - 2002

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