Characterization of miRNA processing machinery in the embryonic chick lung
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Lung development is a very complex process that relies on the interaction of several signaling pathways that are controlled by precise regulatory mechanisms. Recently, microRNAs (miRNAs), small non-coding regulatory RNAs, have emerged as new players involved in gene expression regulation controlling several biological processes, such as cellular differentiation, apoptosis and organogenesis, in both developmental and disease processes. Failure to correctly express some specific miRNAs or a component of their biosynthetic machinery during embryonic development is disastrous, resulting in severe abnormalities. Several miRNAs have already been identified as modulators of lung development. Regarding the spatial distribution of the processing machinery of miRNAs, only two of its members (dicer1 and argonaute) have been characterized. The present work characterizes the expression pattern of drosha, dgcr8, exportin-5 and dicer1 in early stages of the embryonic chick lung by whole mount in situ hybridization and cross-section analysis. Overall, these genes are co-expressed in dorsal and distal mesenchyme and also in growing epithelial regions. The expression pattern of miRNA processing machinery supports the previously recognized regulatory role of this mechanism in epithelial and mesenchymal morphogenesis.
Keywordsdrosha dgcr8 exportin-5 dicer1 Chick lung
The authors would like to thank Dr. Raquel P. Andrade for providing the probes used in this manuscript. We also acknowledge Luís Martins and Ana Lima for slide sectioning.
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