MicroRNAs – small genes with large impact on biology and medicine

Two tiny genes which encode not proteins but RNA were discovered in the 90’s in roundworms. These genes were named “microRNAs (miRNAs)”. Many years later it was found that hundreds if not thousands of different miRNAs are active in almost all animals and plants, and that they play fundamental roles in regulating the activity of almost all normal protein encoding genes. Nowadays it is clear that miRNAs are important for most biological functions and miRNAs have been implicated in many human diseases. miRNAs also offer new avenues to interfere with gene activity for medical therapy. While in the early 2000’s perhaps 20 papers on miRNAs had bshed, this number has now grown to tens of thousands.  In my lecture I will give an overview about what we know about miRNAs. I will also discuss they key problem how to identify biologically important targets of miRNAs. Finally, I will present what I think are the remaining fundamental open questions about miRNAs. 13 April, 11.00 a.m.   Aula Magna Patologia Generale

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