Development of multi-cellular organisms depends on the correct spatial and temporal expression of numerous genes acting in concert to form regulatory networks. The expression of individual genes can be controlled at different levels, e.g. at the transcriptional level by sequence-specific binding of transcription factors and/or by epigenetic modifications, or at the post-transcriptional level, e.g., by modulating translation or protein stability. Within the last decade the picture of gene regulatory mechanisms has been substantially enriched by the identification of small RNAs (sRNAs) of several distinct subspecies. Non-coding regulatory sRNAs contribute to transcriptional and post-transcriptional gene regulation by different modes of sequence-specific interaction with their targets. MicroRNAs (miRNAs), which guide post-transcriptional gene silencing, have been found to contribute to a variety of developmental programs in plants and animals. Here we provide an overview about generation and action of miRNAs and other small RNAs, and their contribution to an important developmental process in plants, flower formation.
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