A microRNA in a Multiple-Turnover RNAi Enzyme Complex
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.
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- Received for publication 10 May 2002.
- Accepted for publication 22 July 2002.