Communication between cells ensures coordination of behavior. In prokaryotes, this signaling is usually referred to as quorum sensing, while eukaryotic cells communicate through hormones. In recent years, a growing number of reports have shown that small signaling molecules produced by organisms from different kingdoms of nature can facilitate cross-talk, communication, or signal interference. This trans-kingdom communication (also termed as trans-kingdom signaling or inter-kingdom signaling) mediates symbiotic and pathogenic relationships between various organisms (e.g., microorganisms and their hosts). Strikingly, it has been discovered that microRNAs (miRNAs)--single-stranded noncoding RNAs with an average length of 22 nt--can be transmitted from one species to another, inducing posttranscriptional gene silencing in distant species, even in a cross-kingdom fashion. Here, we discuss several recent studies concerning miRNA-mediated cross-kingdom gene regulation.
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