A Role of MicroRNAs in Cell Differentiation During Gonad Development
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a group of small noncoding RNA molecules that play a major role in posttranscriptional regulation of gene expression and are expressed in an organ-specific manner. One miRNA can potentially regulate the expression of several genes, depending on cell type and differentiation stage. miRNAs are differentially expressed in the male and female gonads and have an organ-specific reproductive function. Exerting their affect through germ cells and gonadal somatic cells, miRNAs regulate key proteins necessary for gonad development. The role of miRNAs in the testes is only starting to emerge though they have been shown to be required for adequate spermatogenesis. Widely explored in the ovary, miRNAs were suggested to play a fundamental role in follicles’ assembly, growth, differentiation, and ovulation. In this chapter, we focus on data obtained from mice in which distinct proteins that participate in the biosynthesis of miRNAs were conditionally knocked out from germ cells (spermatogonial cells or oocytes) or gonadal somatic cells (Sertoli or granulosa cells). We detail recent advances in identification of particular miRNAs and their significance in the development and function of male and female gonads. miRNAs can serve as biomarkers and therapeutic agents of pathological conditions; thus, elucidating the branched and complex network of reproduction-related miRNAs will aid understanding of gonads’ physiology and managing reproduction disorders.
KeywordsOvary Testis miRNA Mouse Fertility
This work was supported by a grant from the Israel Science Foundation (ISF 470/14 to R.S.).
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