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J Cell Sci. 2009 Jan 1;122(Pt 1):13-20. doi: 10.1242/jcs.041723.

microRNAs and muscle disorders.

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  • 1Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7126, USA.

Abstract

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of non-coding regulatory RNAs of approximately 22 nucleotides in length. miRNAs are highly conserved across a number of species, including plants, worms and humans. miRNAs regulate gene expression post-transcriptionally, primarily by associating with the 3' untranslated region (UTR) of their regulatory target mRNAs. Recent work has begun to reveal roles for miRNAs in a wide range of biological processes, including cell proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis. miRNAs are expressed in cardiac and skeletal muscle, and dysregulated miRNA expression has been correlated with muscle-related disorders. Genetic studies have identified distinct roles for specific miRNAs during cardiogenesis, cardiac hypertrophy and electrical conduction. Furthermore, conditionally inhibiting the maturation of miRNAs in mouse cardiac and skeletal muscles has revealed that miRNAs are essential for the development and function of those muscles. These previously unrecognized regulators shed new light on the molecular mechanisms that underlie muscle development and pathology, and suggest the potential importance of miRNAs as diagnostic markers and therapeutic targets for muscle-related disease.

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