RNA-based recognition and targeting: sowing the seeds of specificity

Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2017 Apr;18(4):215-228. doi: 10.1038/nrm.2016.174. Epub 2017 Feb 15.


RNA is involved in the regulation of multiple cellular processes, often by forming sequence-specific base pairs with cellular RNA or DNA targets that must be identified among the large number of nucleic acids in a cell. Several RNA-based regulatory systems in eukaryotes, bacteria and archaea, including microRNAs (miRNAs), small interfering RNAs (siRNAs), CRISPR RNAs (crRNAs) and small RNAs (sRNAs) that are dependent on the RNA chaperone protein Hfq, achieve specificity using similar strategies. Central to their function is the presentation of short 'seed sequences' within a ribonucleoprotein complex to facilitate the search for and recognition of targets.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / genetics
  • CRISPR-Cas Systems
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Gene Silencing
  • MicroRNAs / genetics
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism*
  • RNA, Small Interfering / genetics
  • RNA, Small Interfering / metabolism*


  • MicroRNAs
  • RNA, Small Interfering