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, 22 (2), 77-85

Noncoding RNAs in β Cell Biology


Noncoding RNAs in β Cell Biology

Ruth A Singer et al. Curr Opin Endocrinol Diabetes Obes.


Purpose of review: The identification and characterization of essential islet transcription factors have improved our understanding of β cell development, provided insights into many of the cellular dysfunctions related to diabetes, and facilitated the successful generation of β cells from alternative cell sources. Recently, noncoding RNAs have emerged as a novel set of molecules that may represent missing components of the known islet regulatory pathways. The purpose of this article is to highlight studies that have implicated noncoding RNAs as important regulators of pancreas cell development and β cell function.

Recent findings: Disruption of essential components of the microRNA processing machinery, in addition to misregulation of individual microRNAs, has revealed the importance of microRNAs in pancreas development and β cell function. Furthermore, over 1000 islet-specific long noncoding RNAs have been identified in mouse and human islets, suggesting that this class of noncoding molecules will also play important functional roles in the β cell.

Summary: The analysis of noncoding RNAs in the pancreas will provide important new insights into pancreatic regulatory processes that will improve our ability to understand and treat diabetes, and may facilitate the generation of replacement β cells from alternative cell sources.

Conflict of interest statement

Financial Support and sponsorship:

None of the authors declare a conflict of interest.


Figure 1
Figure 1. The role of microRNAs in β cell development, function, and disease
1a) A pictorial summary of the studies that identified a role for global miRNA function during β cell development through temporal ablation of Dicer in the pancreas in vivo. Each major stage of pancreas development is represented along with the genotype of conditional Dicer ablation and corresponding phenotype. 1b) Summary of a subset of individual miRNAs that regulate β cell function. The indicated miRNAs regulate glucose-stimulated insulin secretion and/or play a role in compensatory mechanisms during β cell stress.

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