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SUMMARY MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are an integral component of the metazoan genome and affect posttranscriptional repression of target messenger RNAs. The extreme phylogenetic conservation of certain miRNAs suggests their ancient origin and crucial function in conserved developmental processes. We demonstrate that highly conserved miRNA-183 orthologs exist in both deuterostomes and protostomes and their expression is predominant in ciliated ectodermal cells and organs. The miRNA-183 family members are expressed in vertebrate sensory hair cells, in innervated regions of invertebrate deuterostomes, and in sensilla of Drosophila and C. elegans. Thus, miRNA-183 family member expression is conserved in possibly homologous but morphologically distinct sensory cells and organs. The results suggest that miR-183 family members contribute specifically to neurosensory development or function, and that extant metazoan sensory organs are derived from cells that share genetic programs of common evolutionary origin.