The skin is the largest organ of the integumentary system and possesses a vast number of functions. Due to the distinct layers of the skin and the variety of cells which populate each, a tightly regulated network of molecular signals control development and regeneration, whether due to programmed cell termination or injury. MicroRNAs (miRs) are a relatively recent discovery; they are a class of small non-coding RNAs which possess a multitude of biological functions due to their ability to regulate gene expression via post-transcriptional gene silencing. Of interest, is that a plethora of data demonstrates that a number of miRs are highly expressed within the skin, and are evidently key regulators of numerous vital processes to maintain non-aberrant functioning. Recently, miRs have been targeted as therapeutic interventions due to the ability of synthetic 'antagomiRs' to down-regulate abnormal miR expression, thereby potentiating wound healing and attenuating fibrotic processes which can contribute to disease such as systemic sclerosis (SSc). This review will provide an introduction to the structure and function of the skin and miR biogenesis, before summarizing the literature pertaining to the role of miRs. Finally, miR therapies will also be discussed, highlighting important future areas of research.
Keywords: development; homeostasis; microRNA; regeneration; skin; wound.
© 2017 The Author(s). Published by Portland Press Limited on behalf of the Biochemical Society.