Evolutionary flux of canonical microRNAs and mirtrons in Drosophila

Nat Genet. 2010 Jan;42(1):6-9; author reply 9-10. doi: 10.1038/ng0110-6.


Next-generation sequencing technologies generate vast catalogs of short RNA sequences from which to mine microRNAs. However, such data must be vetted to appropriately categorize microRNA precursors and interpret their evolution. A recent study annotated hundreds of microRNAs in three Drosophila species on the basis of singleton reads of heterogeneous length. Our multi-million read datasets indicated that most of these were not substrates of RNAse III cleavage, and comprised many mRNA degradation fragments. We instead identified a distinct and smaller set of novel microRNAs supported by confident cloning signatures, including a high proportion of evolutionarily nascent mirtrons. Our data support a much lower rate in the emergence of lineage-specific microRNAs than previously inferred, with a net flux of ~1 microRNA/million years of Drosophilid evolution.

Publication types

  • Comment
  • Letter
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Conserved Sequence
  • Drosophila / classification
  • Drosophila / genetics*
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Genes, Insect / genetics
  • Genome, Insect
  • MicroRNAs / chemistry
  • MicroRNAs / classification
  • MicroRNAs / genetics*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • Phylogeny
  • Selection, Genetic
  • Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid


  • MicroRNAs

Associated data

  • GEO/GSE13677