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Roles of MicroRNA Structures in Plant RNA Silencing
Department of Plant and Soil Sciences
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are recently discovered endogenous small RNAs of ~22 nucleotides in plants and animals. They regulate gene expression after the gene transcription by cleaving the mRNA and prevent mRNA from translation into proteins. Various miRNAs from both plants and animals were cloned and their precursors and genes were identified. Stem-loop RNA structure is the hallmark of miRNA precursors and helps produce highly efficient RNA silencing triggers, the miRNAs. Here we propose to dissect the miRNA precursor structures using informatics approach and find rules of their structures in RNA silencing. This will involve the establishment of a miRNA structure database and its analysis in detail. The rules found from the database analysis will be applied to design highly efficient small RNAs or small RNA vectors for silencing any genes of interest. The proposed activities also include a training of three graduate students and several undergraduate students.