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DNA Cell Biol. 2007 Apr;26(4):219-25.

MicroRNAs in skeletal and cardiac muscle development.

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Carolina Cardiovascular Biology Center, Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599, USA.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a recently discovered class of small non-coding RNAs, which are approximately 22 nucleotides in length. miRNAs negatively regulate gene expression by translational repression and target mRNA degradation. It has become clear that miRNAs are involved in many biological processes, including development, differentiation, proliferation, and apoptosis. Interestingly, many miRNAs are expressed in a tissue-specific manner and several miRNAs are specifically expressed in cardiac and skeletal muscles. In this review, we focus on those miRNAs that have been shown to be involved in muscle development. Compelling evidences have demonstrated that muscle miRNAs play an important role in the regulation of muscle proliferation and differentiation processes. However, it appears that miRNAs are not essential for early myogenesis and muscle specification. Importantly, dysregulation of miRNAs has been linked to muscle-related diseases, such as cardiac hypertrophy. A mutation resulting in a gain-of-function miRNA target site in the myostatin gene leads to down regulation of the targeted protein in Texel sheep. miRNAs therefore are a new class of regulators of muscle biology and they might become novel therapeutic targets in muscle-related human diseases.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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