Interdisciplinary Bio Central
Etc. (Systems biology)

The Role of microRNAs in Development
Wan Hee Yoon1
1Department of Biological Chemistry, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
*Corresponding author
  Received : November 17, 2009
  Accepted : November 18, 2009
  Published : November 25, 2009
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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Since lin-4, a small RNA that regulates development of Caenorhabditis elegans, was identified, small RNAs called microRNAs (miRNAs) have been emerged to play critical roles in development of organisms (Lee et al., 1993). Development process is a series of reprogramming of gene regulatory network that become more complex as organisms develop. This complex and sophisticated nature of developmental program seems to be vulnerable to mutational events or environmental fluctuations. However, most of the organisms succeed to develop normally despite of complicated gene network. How do organisms acquire robustness of development? miRNAs can be one answer. miRNAs are able to be responsible for leading reliable development by modulating gene regulatory network. Some miRNAs play a role in genetic buffering by tuning intrinsic noises within genetic program during development. Other miRNAs can maintain the fidelity of fate decision program by eliminating target genes. Other miRNAs do not contribute to development significantly; however, some of them stabilize developmental programs from environmental fluctuation. In this review, I will discuss how miRNAs play a critical role in development in many different ways.

Keyword: microRNA (miRNA), development, gene regulatory network, genetic buffering, robustness, fine-tune, fidelity of fate decision program, coherent feed-forward loop (CFFL), incoherent feed-forward loop (IFFL), bistable loop, environmental fluctuation
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