MicroRNAs and small interfering RNAs can inhibit mRNA expression by similar mechanisms

Yan Zeng, Rui Yi, Bryan R. Cullen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

734 Scopus citations


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are endogenously encoded small noncoding RNAs, derived by processing of short RNA hairpins, that can inhibit the translation of mRNAs bearing partially complementary target sequences. In contrast, small interfering RNAs (siRNAs), which are derived by processing of long double-stranded RNAs and are often of exogenous origin, degrade mRNAs bearing fully complementary sequences. Here, we demonstrate that an endogenously encoded human miRNA is able to cleave an mRNA bearing fully complementary target sites, whereas an exogenously supplied siRNA can inhibit the expression of an mRNA bearing partially complementary sequences without inducing detectable RNA cleavage. These data suggest that miRNAs and siRNAs can use similar mechanisms to repress mRNA expression and that the choice of mechanism may be largely or entirely determined by the degree of complementary of the RNA target.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9779-9784
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number17
StatePublished - Aug 19 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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