PerspectiveCell Biology

Nuclear Export of Small RNAs

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Science  27 Nov 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5957, pp. 1195-1196
DOI: 10.1126/science.1183273

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In eukaryotic organisms, RNAs are generated in the cell nucleus but many perform their functions in the cytoplasm and so need to be exported through pores in the nuclear envelope. Because many RNAs must be processed or modified in the nucleus, it is important that only the fully mature RNA is exported. Stringent molecular recognition is required to identify the class of RNA and ensure that its processing has been completed. On page 1275 of this issue, Okada et al. provide remarkable insight into this export process for pre-microRNAs (1), which—after further digestion in the cytoplasm—function to regulate specific mRNAs. Unexpectedly, pre-microRNAs are recognized for export in a quite different way to that recently reported by Cook et al. for transfer RNA (tRNA) (2).