Biology Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for biology researchers, academics, and students. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Don't they both just disrupt RNA so it can't make a protein? If so, then what is the difference between the 2?

share|improve this question

Antisense simply means that a sequence is the complement of another. miRNAs are naturally occurring antisense RNAs yes. The "difference" is that antisense RNA is often used for sequences developed in the lab and used for processes such as RNAi.

miRNAs, on the other hand, are encoded by the genome and are used by the cell for regulating gene expression. They do this through the RISC complex, just like artificial antisense RNAs such as siRNAs.

Basically, antisense is the general term, and can be applied to any sequence whose complement exists in the genome. miRNAs are a particular class of antisense RNAs.

share|improve this answer
thanks a lot, that was helpful! – guest May 11 '14 at 17:45
@guest you're very welcome. If this answer solves your issue please take a minute and check the check mark under the vote count to the left, this will signify to everyone that your issue's been resolved. – terdon May 11 '14 at 17:47

Antisense RNA is any RNA that is complementary to another RNA. Therefore, miRNA is a type of antisense RNA. Antisense RNA can inhibit translation of mRNA by hybridizing and preventing ribosomal binding/translocation. Antisense RNA in this context could be any length and bind anywhere between the RBS and end of the CDS. miRNA also prevents translation but it does so through the RNAi pathway by facilitating binding of the RISC complex to mRNA (often in the 3'-UTR, which is after the CDS). miRNA are around 22 nts long (but it is species dependent).

share|improve this answer
Strictly speaking, it does not need to be complementary to mRNA. It can be complementary to any RNA moiety. – terdon May 11 '14 at 16:02
Thanks! I've updated it. If I had seen your answer I wouldn't have posted but I got sidetracked in the middle of typing mine and it got delayed. – canadianer May 11 '14 at 17:19
No reason not to post! The more the merrier :) – terdon May 11 '14 at 17:22

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.