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Yi Chuan. 2009 Feb;31(2):115-22.

[miRNAs play an essential role in stem cell self-renewal and differentiation].

[Article in Chinese]

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Laboratory of Animal Development Biology, College of Life Science, Northeast Forestry University, Harbin 150040, China.


Stem cells and miRNAs are two of the most intriguing research topics in recent years. Stem cells with properties of self-renewal and multipotency are remarkable cells since they play key roles in animal development and tumorigenesis. microRNAs (miRNAs) are approximately 22nt non-coding RNAs, which have spatiotemporally specific expression patterns, and are highly conserved between species. Researchers have demonstrated that miRNAs can regulate gene expression at post-transcriptional level, and their action is one of the essential intracellular regulatory pathways. Recent evidence showed that miRNAs can regulate stem cells self-renewal and differentiation. The evidence mostly derived from the following research strategies: (1) deletion or mutation of the genes that encoding essential enzymes for miRNAs biogenesis, such as Dicer1, Loqs, DGCR8, and Argonaute; (2) screening of specific miRNAs from stem cells and investigation of their function. Comprehension of the miRNAs functions in stem cells is of great importance for further understanding their self-renewal and differentiation mechanism, as well as identification of stem cells. This paper reviews the potential roles of miRNAs in stem cells on the basis of recent researches.

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