A Reinnervating MicroRNA

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Science  11 Dec 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5959, pp. 1494-1495
DOI: 10.1126/science.1183842

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MicroRNAs are small noncoding RNAs (∼22 nucleotides in length) that negatively regulate gene expression at the posttranscriptional level by binding to the 3′-untranslated region of target RNAs. Over the past 15 years, critical roles for microRNA have been established in regulating cell proliferation, differentiation and development, and death (1). Recent investigations have implicated microRNA networks in diverse disorders, such as cancer and cardiac disease. On page 1549 in this issue, Williams et al. (2) define a role for a microRNA (miR-206) in reinnervating the neuromuscular junction after injury and improving survival in a mouse model of the neurodegenerative disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The findings provide insight into the molecular basis of neuromuscular junction plasticity in the adult and also into determinants of rates of disease progression in motor neuron disease.