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Curr Opin Cell Biol. 2013 Apr;25(2):208-14. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2013 Jan 16.

MicroRNAs in somatic cell reprogramming.

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  • 1Key Laboratory of Regenerative Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine, South China Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, Guangzhou Institutes of Biomedicine and Health, Guangzhou 510530, China.


The generation of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells by exogenous transcription factors involves a comprehensive rearrangement of cellular functions, including the microRNA profile. The resulting cell lines are similar to embryonic stem (ES) cells and have therefore raised much interest for in vitro studies and the perspective of clinical application. Yet, microRNAs are not mere listeners of the reprogramming orchestra but play an active role in the process. In consequence, overexpression or suppression of individual microRNAs has profound effects in colony formation efficiency, and in combination they can produce iPS cells without added transcription factors. Moreover, variations in microRNA expression of iPS/ES cells can predict their differentiation potential and may have consequences at other levels. Altogether, these findings highlight the relevance of pursuing further these studies.

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