In genetics, microRNA (miRNA) is a type of single-stranded RNA molecule of about 21-23 nucleotides in length, involved in the regulation of gene expression. miRNAs are RNAs that do not encode, ie they are encoded by genes transcribed from DNA but not translated into proteins. The primary transcripts, called pri-miRNAs, are processed by first converting them into short stem-loop structures called pre-miRNAs and then functional miRNAs. Mature miRNA molecules are partial complementary to one or more messenger RNAs (mRNAs), and their main function is to down-regulate gene expression. They were discovered in 1993 by Lee and colleagues in the Victor Ambros laboratory, but the term microRNA was first introduced in 2001.

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