miR-155: an ancient regulator of the immune system

Immunol Rev. 2013 May;253(1):146-57. doi: 10.1111/imr.12057.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a newly recognized class of regulatory genes which repress the expression of protein-coding genes. Numerous studies have uncovered a complex role for miRNAs regulating many aspects of a variety of cellular processes including cell growth, differentiation, and lineage commitment. In the immune system, miR-155 is unique in its ability to shape the transcriptome of activated myeloid and lymphoid cells controlling diverse biological functions ranging from inflammation to immunological memory. Not surprisingly, a tight control of miR-155 expression is required to avoid malignant transformation, as evidenced by miR-155 overexpression in many cancers of B-cell origin. In this review, we discuss the potential of miR-155 as a molecular target for therapeutic intervention and discuss the function of miR-155 in the context of protective immunity. We first look back into the emergence of miR-155 in evolution, which is coincidental with the emergence of the ancestors of the antigen receptors. We then summarize what we have learned about the role of miR-155 in the regulation of lymphoid subsets at the cellular and molecular level in the context of recent progress in this field.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Biological Evolution
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Lineage
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / immunology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immune System / physiology*
  • Immunologic Memory
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell / genetics
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell / immunology*
  • MicroRNAs / genetics
  • MicroRNAs / immunology*
  • Myeloid Cells / immunology*
  • Receptors, Antigen / genetics
  • Transcriptome


  • MIRN155 microRNA, human
  • MicroRNAs
  • Receptors, Antigen