MicroRNAs regulate the expression of protein-coding genes in animals and plants. They function by binding to mRNA transcripts with complementary sequences and inhibit their expression. The level of sequence complementarity between the microRNA and mRNA transcript varies between animal and plant systems. Owing to this subtle difference, it was initially believed that animal and plant microRNAs act in different ways. Recent developments revealed that, although differences still remain in the two kingdoms, the differences are smaller than first thought. It is now clear that both animal and plant microRNAs mediate both translational repression of intact mRNAs and also cause mRNA degradation.

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