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.
© 2013 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd.