Higher eukaryotes employ extensive post-transcriptional gene regulation to accomplish fine control of gene expression. The microRNA (miRNA) family plays important roles in the post-transcriptional gene regulation of broad networks of target mRNA expression. Most miRNAs are generated by a conserved mechanism involving two RNase III enzymes Drosha and Dicer. However, work from the past few years has uncovered diverse noncanonical miRNA pathways, which exploit a variety of other RNA processing enzymes. In addition, the discovery of another abundant small RNA family, endogenous short interfering RNAs (endo-siRNAs), has also broadened the catalogs of short regulatory RNAs. This review highlights recent studies that revealed novel small RNA biogenesis pathways, and discusses their relevance to gene regulatory networks.
Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.