MicroRNAs contribute significantly to the development, survival, function, and plasticity of neurons. They silence expression of target genes by reducing mRNA stability and translation. Production of microRNAs is controlled via developmental and environmental cues and these small molecules, in concert with classical transcriptional regulators, amplify changes in neuronal maturation, dendrite morphogenesis, and synaptogenesis. Neurons compartmentalize mRNAs and microRNAs within specific subcellular domains to facilitate control of local protein synthesis in response to neuronal stimuli and to modulate synaptic plasticity. This review addresses issues relevant to microRNA function in neurons, in particular, their ability to reinforce developmental decisions and promote synaptic plasticity.
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