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RNA. 2006 Sep;12(9):1640-9. Epub 2006 Jul 18.

MicroRNAs from the Planarian Schmidtea mediterranea: a model system for stem cell biology.

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Department of Genetics and Developmental Biology, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, Connecticut 06030-3301, USA.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are approximately 22-nt RNA molecules that typically bind to the 3' untranslated regions of target mRNAs and function to either induce mRNA degradation or repress translation. miRNAs have been shown to play important roles in the function of stem cells and cell lineage decisions in a variety of organisms, including humans. Planarians are bilaterally symmetric metazoans that have the unique ability to completely regenerate lost tissues or organs. This regenerative capacity is facilitated by a population of stem cells known as neoblasts. Planarians are therefore an excellent model system for studying many aspects of stem cell biology. Here we report the cloning and initial characterization of 71 miRNAs from the planarian Schmidtea mediterranea. While several of the S. mediterranea miRNAs are members of miRNA families identified in other species, we also identified a number of planarian-specific miRNAs. This work lays the foundation for functional studies aimed at addressing the role of these miRNAs in regeneration, cell lineage decisions, and basic stem cell biology.

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