Indexed on: 25 Sep '10Published on: 25 Sep '10Published in: Nucleic acids research
Recent deep-sequencing efforts have identified many novel non-conserved small RNAs that are expressed at low levels in certain mammalian cells. Whether these small RNAs are important for mammalian physiology is debatable, therefore we explored the function of one such RNA, human miR-1271. This small RNA is similar in sequence to miR-96, a highly conserved microRNA that when mutated causes hearing loss in humans and mice. Although the miR-1271 and miR-96 sequences differ slightly, our in vitro assays indicate that they have an identical regulatory activity. We have identified brain-expressed mRNAs from genes including, GPHN, RGS2, HOMER1 and KCC2, which share the same miR-96 and miR-1271 regulatory elements. Interestingly, human miR-1271 is expressed abundantly in brain tissue, where miR-96 is not highly expressed. The rodent miR-1271 precursor contains several sequence differences in the precursor stem, which appear to reduce the efficiency of microRNA processing. Our data indicate that although miR-1271 and miR-96 function identically in vitro, they function to some extent uniquely in vivo. Given the expression patterns and nature of the target genes, miR-1271 may have a significant, although non-conserved, role in regulating aspects of neural development or function in humans.