PloS one

Three Drosophila Hox complex microRNAs do not have major effects on expression of evolutionarily conserved Hox gene targets during embryogenesis.

PMID 22393361


The discovery of microRNAs has resulted in a major expansion of the number of molecules known to be involved in gene regulation. Elucidating the functions of animal microRNAs has posed a significant challenge as their target interactions with messenger RNAs do not adhere to simple rules. Of the thousands of known animal microRNAs, relatively few microRNA:messenger RNA regulatory interactions have been biologically validated in an normal organismal context. Here we present evidence that three microRNAs from the Hox complex in Drosophila (miR-10-5p, miR-10-3p, miR-iab-4-5p) do not have significant effects during embryogenesis on the expression of Hox genes that contain high confidence microRNAs target sites in the 3' untranslated regions of their messenger RNAs. This is significant, in that it suggests that many predicted microRNA-target interactions may not be biologically relevant, or that the outcomes of these interactions may be so subtle that mutants may only show phenotypes in specific contexts, such as in environmental stress conditions, or in combinations with other microRNA mutations.