MicroRNAs (miRs) are small non coding RNA, about 21-25 nucleotides in length, that direct post transcriptional regulation of gene expression through interaction with homologous mRNAs. Hundreds miR genes have been identified in animals and 40 in plants. Many of them are conserved between related species, and in some cases across phyla. Two mechanisms for regulation of gene expression by miRs have been reported. As described for lin-4
miR of C.elegans, miRs can inhibit translation, which seems to represent the major mode of regulation in animals, or can direct cleavage of target mRNAs, which seems to represent the major mode of regulation in plants.