MicroRNAs: new regulators of immune cell development and function

Nat Immunol. 2008 Aug;9(8):839-45. doi: 10.1038/ni.f.209.


Decades of research went into understanding immune cell development and function without awareness that consideration of a key element, microRNA (miRNA), was lacking. The discovery of miRNAs as regulators of developmental events in model organisms suggested to many investigators that miRNA might be involved in the immune system. In the past few years, widespread examination of this possibility has produced notable results. Results have shown that miRNAs affect mammalian immune cell differentiation, the outcome of immune responses to infection and the development of diseases of immunological origin. Some miRNAs repress expression of target proteins with well established functions in hematopoiesis. Here we bring together much of this work, which has so far only scratched the surface of this very fertile field of investigation, and show how the results illuminate many historic questions about hematopoiesis and immune function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation*
  • Cell Lineage
  • Hematopoiesis / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Immunity / genetics
  • Immunity / physiology*
  • Inflammation / genetics*
  • MicroRNAs / genetics
  • MicroRNAs / physiology*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism


  • MicroRNAs
  • RNA, Messenger