There's a new potential role for microRNAs, according to a report in this week's Nature: modulating dendritic protein building in the hippocampus, a process known to be involved in learning and memory. The findings suggest that microRNAs may help regulate synaptic strength at individual synapses, the authors say.This study is one of the first to examine microRNAs in mature neurons, said Kenneth Kosik of the Neuroscience Research Institute at the University of California, Santa Barbara, who did not participate in the research. Almost all data on microRNAs in the nervous system come from development, Kosik added.MicroRNAs are small, non-coding RNA molecules that exert control over many developmental pathways in animals and plants by preventing the translation of messenger RNA into protein. Previous work has shown that mRNAs can be translated locally at ribosomes found in dendrites, first author Gerhard Schratt of Harvard Medical School and Children's Hospital Boston...
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