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Nat Clin Pract Rheumatol. 2008 Oct;4(10):534-41. doi: 10.1038/ncprheum0885. Epub 2008 Aug 26.

MicroRNAs, the immune system and rheumatic disease.

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Molecular Virology, Immunology and Medical Genetics Department, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are short noncoding RNA molecules that modulate the expression of multiple target genes at the post-transcriptional level and are implicated in a wide array of cellular and developmental processes. In hematopoietic cells, miRNA levels are dynamically regulated during lineage differentiation and also during the course of the immune response. Mouse models have provided good evidence for miRNAs being key players in the establishment of hematopoietic lineages. Furthermore, miRNA-dependent alterations in gene expression in hematopoietic cells are critical for mounting an appropriate immune response to a wide range of pathogens, spontaneously emerging tumors, and autoimmune cells. Deregulation of hematopoietic-specific miRNA expression results in defects in both central and peripheral tolerance, hematopoietic malignancies, and sometimes both. Abnormal expression of miRNAs-which is implicated in inflammation-has also been found in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. These findings identify miRNAs as critical targets for immunomodulatory drug development.

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