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Cell Cycle. 2008 Aug;7(15):2327-32. Epub 2008 Jun 13.

microRNA control of cell-cell signaling during development and disease.

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Department of Developmental Biology, Sloan-Kettering Institute, New York, New York 10065, USA.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are critical post-transcriptional regulators that may collectively control a majority of animal genes. With thousands of miRNAs identified, a pressing challenge is now to understand their specific biological activities. Many predicted miRNA:target interactions only subtly alter gene activity. It has consequently not been trivial to deduce how miRNAs are relevant to phenotype, and by extension, relevant to disease. We note that the major signal transduction cascades that control animal development are highly dose-sensitive and frequently altered in human disorders. On this basis, we hypothesize that developmental cell signaling pathways represent prime candidates for mediating some of the major phenotypic consequences of miRNA deregulation, especially under gain-of-function conditions. This perspective reviews the evidence for miRNA targeting of the major signaling pathways, and discusses its implications for how aberrant miRNA activity might underlie human disease and cancer.

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