MicroRNAs comprise a novel class of endogenous, small (only about 20 to 25 nucleotides), and noncoding RNAs, and almost involved in the physiologic and pathologic process of cardiovascular system. MicroRNAs, in common, play the similar roles as transcription factors by specifically binding the seed sequence within 3’UTR of target genes, by activating their degradation or inhibiting their translation of the target genes mRNAs or inhibit their translation, which result in variety of cell activities changing at different levels. Moreover, during the each stage of development, microRNAs maintain the shift balance between differentiation and proliferation of cell-status.
The canonical miRNA biogenesis pathway is Drosha- and Dicer-dependent. Another non-canonical pathway involving Drosha-independent/Dicer-dependent biogenesis generates mirtrons, transcribed from intronic sequences and obtained by splicing and lariat-debranching.
By far, most of the research on miRNA and human pathology has focused on examining the role of the miRNA genes themselves in the disease process, with many studies using high throughput methods to analyze global miRNA expression in clinical samples, but reveals little about the underlying miRNA expression problem that promotes the disease process. Cell-based assays that are suitable for biochemical experimentation are widely used to narrow down potential candidate miRNAs for further testing. Moreover, animal models and miRNA library screens have also been valuable tools for uncovering novel miRNA functions in neoplasia.
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