, Volume 359, Issue 1, pp 145-160
Date: 14 May 2014

Lin28 and let-7: ancient milestones on the road from pluripotency to neurogenesis

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Abstract

Beginning with their discovery in the context of stem cell fate choice in Caenorhabditis elegans, the microRNA (miRNA) let-7 and the RNA-binding protein Lin28 have been recognized as a regulatory pair with far-reaching impact on stem cell behavior in a wide range of organisms and tissues, including the mammalian brain. In this review, we describe molecular interactions between Lin28 and let-7 and the biological role that each plays in implementing stem cell programs that either maintain stem cell self-renewal and plasticity or drive lineage commitment and differentiation. For Lin28, considerable progress has been made in defining let-7-dependent and let-7-independent functions in the maintenance of pluripotency, somatic cell reprogramming, tissue regeneration, and neural stem cell plasticity. For the pro-differentiation activity of let-7, we focus on emerging roles in mammalian neurogenesis and neuronal function. Specific targets and pathways for let-7 have been identified in embryonic and adult neurogenesis, including corticogenesis, retinal specification, and adult neurogenic niches. Special emphasis is given to examples of feedback and feedforward regulation, in particular within the miRNA biogenesis pathway.