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Exp Dermatol. 2012 Mar;21(3):162-70. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0625.2011.01436.x.

Lentiviral vectors for cutaneous RNA managing.

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Department of Biomedicine, University of Aarhus, Aarhus C, Denmark.


Post-transcriptional managing of RNA plays a key role in the intricate network of cellular pathways that regulate our genes. Numerous small RNA species have emerged as crucial regulators of RNA processing and translation. Among these, microRNAs (miRNAs) regulate protein synthesis through specific interactions with target RNAs and are believed to play a role in almost any cellular process and tissue. Skin is no exception, and miRNAs are intensively studied for their role in skin homoeostasis and as potential triggers of disease. For use in skin and many other tissues, therapeutic RNA managing by small RNA technologies is now widely explored. Despite the easy accessibility of skin, the natural barrier properties of skin have challenged genetic intervention studies, and unique tools for studying gene expression and the regulatory role of small RNAs, including miRNAs, in human skin are urgently needed. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-derived lentiviral vectors (LVs) have been established as prominent carriers of foreign genetic cargo. In this review, we describe the use of HIV-derived LVs for efficient gene transfer to skin and establishment of long-term transgene expression in xenotransplanted skin. We outline the status of engineered LVs for delivery of small RNAs and their in vivo applicability for expression of genes and small RNA effectors including small hairpin RNAs, miRNAs and miRNA inhibitors. Current findings suggest that LVs may become key tools in experimental dermatology with particular significance for cutaneous RNA managing and in vivo genetic intervention.

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