Cell and Tissue Research

, Volume 349, Issue 3, pp 679–690 | Cite as

Characterization and importance of microRNAs in mammalian gonadal functions

  • M. M. Hossain
  • M. M. H. Sohel
  • K. Schellander
  • D. Tesfaye
Review

Abstract

Recent progress in high throughput sequencing and bioinformatic analysis and other biochemical methods have fuelled our appreciation for the important role of microRNAs (miRNAs) in disease, fertility and development. These tiny RNAs were found to be potentially involved in various aspects of cellular processes of reproductive tissues by posttranscriptional regulation of protein coding genes. Mammalian gonads which exhibit strictly regulated spatiotemporal gene expression patterns are also known to express unique sets of miRNAs and genes involved in the miRNA biogenetic pathway. Studies on miRNAs and their associated processing enzymes have evidenced the contribution of these small regulatory RNAs to germ cell differentiation, post-meiotic male germ cell function and growth, and development and maturation of oocytes through pertaining tightly regulated gene expression. The existence, preferential and temporal expression of miRNAs and their processing machinery genes in different stages of testicular and ovarian cellular development have evidenced the potential role of miRNAs in testicular and ovarian physiology. MiRNAs are also found to be associated with functional regulation of gonadal somatic cells, namely Leydig cells and Sertoli cells in testis and granulosa cells/cumulus cells in the ovary in steroid synthesis. Here, we review the recent works on the involvement and diverse roles of miRNAs in the development and physiology of gonadal cells in mammalian reproduction.

Keywords

microRNAs Gonads Testis Ovary Fertility 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. M. Hossain
    • 1
  • M. M. H. Sohel
    • 2
  • K. Schellander
    • 2
  • D. Tesfaye
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Animal Breeding and GeneticsBangladesh Agricultural UniversityMymensinghBangladesh
  2. 2.Institute of Animal Science, Animal Husbandry and Breeding GroupUniversity of BonnBonnGermany

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