BMB Rep. 2016; 49(1): 3-10  
The expression and functional roles of microRNAs in stem cell differentiation
Jiwon Shim1,* & Jin-Wu Nam1,2,*
1Department of Life Science, College of Natural Sciences, 2Research Institute of Natural Sciences, Hanyang University, Seoul 04763, Korea
Correspondence to: Jiwon Shim, Tel: +82-2-2220-2615; Fax: +82-2-2298-0319; E-mail:, Jin-Wu Nam, Tel: +82-2-2220-2428; Fax: +82-2-2298-0319; E-mail:
Received: October 19, 2015; Published online: January 31, 2016.
© Korean Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. All rights reserved.

microRNAs (miRNAs) are key regulators of cell state transition and retention during stem cell proliferation and differentiation by post-transcriptionally downregulating hundreds of conserved target genes via seed-pairing in their 3’ untranslated region. In embryonic and adult stem cells, dozens of miRNAs that elaborately control stem cell processes by modulating the transcriptomic context therein have been identified. Some miRNAs accelerate the change of cell state into progenitor cell lineages?such as myoblast, myeloid or lymphoid progenitors, and neuro precursor stem cells?and other miRNAs decelerate the change but induce proliferative activity, resulting in cell state retention. This cell state choice can be controlled by endogenously or exogenously changing miRNA levels or by including or excluding target sites. This control of miRNA-mediated gene regulation could improve our understanding of stem cell biology and facilitate their development as therapeutic tools.
Keywords: Adult stem cell, Differentiation, Embryonic stem cell, microRNA, Proliferation, Self-renewal

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