MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are key components of a broadly conserved post-transcriptional mechanism that controls gene expression by targeting mRNAs. miRNAs regulate diverse biological processes, including the growth and differentiation of stem cells as well as the regulation of both endogenous tissue repair that has critical implications in the development of regenerative medicine approaches. In this review, we first describe key features of miRNA biogenesis and their role in regulating self-renewal, and then discuss the involvement of miRNAs in the determination of cell fate decisions. We highlight the role of miRNAs in the emergent field of reprogramming and trans-differentiation of somatic cells that could further our understanding of miRNA biology and regenerative medicine applications. Finally, we describe potential techniques for proper delivery of miRNAs in target cells.
Keywords: Differentiation; Regenerative medicine; Reprogramming; Self-renewal; Trans-differentiation; microRNAs.
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