In addition to exposure to passive diurnal cycles of sunlight, humans are also subjected to intentional acute exposure to other types of electromagnetic radiation (EM). Understanding the molecular mechanisms involved in the physiological, pathological and therapeutic responses to exposure to radiation is an active area of research. With the advent of methods to readily catalog and identify patterns of changes in gene expression, many studies have reported changes in gene expression upon exposure of various human and mouse cells in vitro, whole experimental organisms such as mice and parts of human body. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying these broad ranging changes in gene expression are not yet fully understood. MicroRNAs, which are short, noncoding RNAs that regulate gene expression by targeting many messenger RNAs, are also emerging as important mediators of radiation-induced changes in gene expression and hence critical for the manifestation of light-induced cellular phenotypes and physiological responses. In this article, we review available knowledge on microRNAs implicated in responses to various forms of solar and other EM radiation. Based on this knowledge, we elaborate some unifying themes in the regulation and functions of some of these miRNAs.
© 2014 The American Society of Photobiology.