Noncanonical functions of microRNAs in the nucleus

Acta Biochim Biophys Sin (Shanghai). 2024 Feb 25;56(2):151-161. doi: 10.3724/abbs.2023268.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs) that play their roles in the regulation of physiological and pathological processes. Originally, it was assumed that miRNAs only modulate gene expression posttranscriptionally in the cytoplasm by inducing target mRNA degradation. However, with further research, evidence shows that mature miRNAs also exist in the cell nucleus, where they can impact gene transcription and ncRNA maturation in several ways. This review provides an overview of novel models of nuclear miRNA functions. Some of the models remain to be verified by experimental evidence, and more details of the miRNA regulation network remain to be discovered in the future.

Keywords: gene regulation; miRNA-inducing silencing complex (miRISC); microRNA; nuclear localization; transcriptional control.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cytoplasm / genetics
  • Cytoplasm / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • MicroRNAs* / genetics
  • MicroRNAs* / metabolism


  • MicroRNAs

Grants and funding

This work was supported by the grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 82271830), the Innovative Research Team of High-Level Local Universities in Shanghai (No. SHSMU-ZDCX20210600), the Undergraduate Training Program on Innovation (Med-X), and Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine (No. 1723X011).