Research out of Dartmouth has linked miRNAs to the transition from invertebrate to vertebrate, according to a recent paper published in PNAS. The authors compared the miRNA expression patterns of lampreys, considered to be the first vertebrate, and non-vertebrate aquatic animals and found 41 families unique to lampreys. Wired quotes lead author Kevin Peterson as saying, "We're arguing that in the early ocean history of invertebrates, a stupendous amount of microRNAs evolved out of 'junk' DNA. Adding these regulators facilitated new cell types, and the new cell types made possible new structures and new complexity."
All Roads Lead to the Lamprey
Feb 22, 2008