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A study of neural-related microRNAs in the developing amphioxus

Author(s): Candiani Simona | Moronti Luca | De Pietri Tonelli Davide | Garbarino Greta | Pestarino Mario

Journal: EvoDevo
ISSN 2041-9139

Volume: 2;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 15;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Abstract Background MicroRNAs are small noncoding RNAs regulating expression of protein coding genes at post-transcriptional level and controlling several biological processes. At present microRNAs have been identified in various metazoans and seem also to be involved in brain development, neuronal differentiation and subtypes specification. An approach to better understand the role of microRNAs in animal gene expression is to determine temporal and tissue-specific expression patterns of microRNAs in different model organisms. Therefore, we have investigated the expression of six neural related microRNAs in amphioxus, an organism having an important phylogenetic position in terms of understanding the origin and evolution of chordates. Results In amphioxus, all the microRNAs we examined are expressed in specific regions of the CNS, and some of them are correlated with specific cell types. In addition, miR-7, miR-137 and miR-184 are also expressed in endodermal and mesodermal tissues. Several potential targets expressed in the nervous system of amphioxus have been identified by computational prediction and some of them are coexpressed with one or more miRNAs. Conclusion We identified six miRNAs that are expressed in the nervous system of amphioxus in a variety of patterns. miR-124 is found in both differentiating and mature neurons, miR-9 in differentiated neurons, miR-7, miR-137 and miR-184 in restricted CNS regions, and miR-183 in cells of sensory organs. Therefore, such amphioxus miRNAs may play important roles in regional patterning and/or specification of neuronal cell types.
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