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Biological significance, computational analysis, and applications of plant microRNAs

Szwacka, Maria, Pawełkowicz, Magdalena, Skarzyńska, Agnieszka, Osipowski, Paweł, Wojcieszek, Michał, Przybecki, Zbigniew, Pląder, Wojciech
Acta physiologiae plantarum 2018 v.40 no.8 pp. 146
bioinformatics, crops, eukaryotic cells, genes, high-throughput nucleotide sequencing, messenger RNA, microRNA, non-coding RNA, nucleotides, transcription (genetics)
microRNA molecules belong to a class of small non-coding RNAs composed of 21–24 nucleotides and have been identified in most eukaryotes. These small RNA molecules can either transcriptionally or post-transcriptionally regulate expression of their target messenger RNAs. Access to the latest RNA-profiling technologies (e.g. high-throughput sequencing) in combination with computational analysis has contributed to rapid development in the field of miRNA research. Species-specific and highly conserved miRNAs’ control in plants biological processes. Nevertheless, regulatory functions of plant miRNAs have not been still fully understood. Hence, one of the major challenges in plant miRNA research is to find out their regulatory activities that may create an opportunity to develop new strategies for improving crops. This paper provides an overview of the current knowledge concerning the mechanisms related to plant gene regulation via miRNAs. Moreover, it includes an updated overview on the bioinformatic approaches that are available for identification of new miRNAs and their targets. It also includes some specific data on key functions of plant miRNAs to show potential impact of such small RNA molecules on diverse biological processes and their biotechnological significance. Current challenges and future perspectives have also been highlighted.