Identification and consequences of miRNA-target interactions--beyond repression of gene expression

Nat Rev Genet. 2014 Sep;15(9):599-612. doi: 10.1038/nrg3765. Epub 2014 Jul 15.


Comparative genomics analyses and high-throughput experimental studies indicate that a microRNA (miRNA) binds to hundreds of sites across the transcriptome. Although the knockout of components of the miRNA biogenesis pathway has profound phenotypic consequences, most predicted miRNA targets undergo small changes at the mRNA and protein levels when the expression of the miRNA is perturbed. Alternatively, miRNAs can establish thresholds in and increase the coherence of the expression of their target genes, as well as reduce the cell-to-cell variability in target gene expression. Here, we review the recent progress in identifying miRNA targets and the emerging paradigms of how miRNAs shape the dynamics of target gene expression.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Argonaute Proteins / genetics
  • Argonaute Proteins / metabolism
  • Binding Sites
  • Computational Biology / methods*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Gene Regulatory Networks
  • High-Throughput Screening Assays
  • Humans
  • MicroRNAs / genetics*
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism
  • Models, Genetic
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • RNA-Induced Silencing Complex / metabolism


  • Argonaute Proteins
  • MicroRNAs
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA-Induced Silencing Complex