In the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, microRNA (miRNA) regulation of development was first observed in the striking abnormalities of lin-4 and let-7 loss of function mutants. However, after these first two miRNA mutant phenotypes were described, progress on the identification of miRNA functions in worms slowed considerably. Recent advances reveal new functions for miRNAs in embryonic and larval development as well as in the regulation of lifespan and stress response. Results from a combination of computational, biochemical, and genetic approaches have deepened our understanding of miRNA regulation of target mRNAs and support the hypothesis that miRNAs have an important role in ensuring the robustness of developmental and physiological pathways.
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