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A role for pseudogenes
MicroRNAs are known to regulate gene expression by interacting with incompletely complementary sequences in a target messenger RNA. But is the converse true: can mRNA expression affect miRNA distribution? A new study shows that the 3′ untranslated region of a pseudogene — the tumour suppressor pseudogene PTENP1 — binds the same miRNAs as the related protein-coding gene, PTEN. This suggests that pseudogenes may have a biological function as ‘decoys’, sequestering miRNAs and thereby affecting their regulation of expressed genes. [Article p.1033; News & Views p. 1016; www.nature.com/podcast]
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