MicroRNAs (miRNAs) constitute a recently discovered class of small non-coding RNAs that regulate expression of target genes either by decreasing the stability of the target mRNA or by translational inhibition. They are involved in diverse processes, including cellular differentiation, proliferation and apoptosis. Recent evidence also suggests their importance for cancerogenesis. By far the most important model systems in cancer research are mammalian organisms. Thus, we decided to compile comprehensive information on mammalian miRNAs, their origin and regulated target genes in an exhaustive, curated database called Argonaute (http://www.ma.uni-heidelberg.de/apps/zmf/argonaute/interface). Argonaute collects latest information from both literature and other databases. In contrast to current databases on miRNAs like miRBase::Sequences, NONCODE or RNAdb, Argonaute hosts additional information on the origin of an miRNA, i.e. in which host gene it is encoded, its expression in different tissues and its known or proposed function, its potential target genes including Gene Ontology annotation, as well as miRNA families and proteins known to be involved in miRNA processing. Additionally, target genes are linked to an information retrieval system that provides comprehensive information from sequence databases and a simultaneous search of MEDLINE with all synonyms of a given gene. The web interface allows the user to get information for a single or multiple miRNAs, either selected or uploaded through a text file. Argonaute currently has information on 839 miRNAs from human, mouse and rat.

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