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Open Access Highly Accessed Review

Regulation of MicroRNA Biogenesis: A miRiad of mechanisms

Brandi N Davis12* and Akiko Hata12

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Biochemistry, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston MA 02111, USA

2 Molecular Cardiology Research Institute, Tufts Medical Center, Boston, MA 02111, USA

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Cell Communication and Signaling 2009, 7:18  doi:10.1186/1478-811X-7-18

Published: 10 August 2009

Abstract

microRNAs are small, non-coding RNAs that influence diverse biological functions through the repression of target genes during normal development and pathological responses. Widespread use of microRNA arrays to profile microRNA expression has indicated that the levels of many microRNAs are altered during development and disease. These findings have prompted a great deal of investigation into the mechanism and function of microRNA-mediated repression. However, the mechanisms which govern the regulation of microRNA biogenesis and activity are just beginning to be uncovered. Following transcription, mature microRNA are generated through a series of coordinated processing events mediated by large protein complexes. It is increasingly clear that microRNA biogenesis does not proceed in a 'one-size-fits-all' manner. Rather, individual classes of microRNAs are differentially regulated through the association of regulatory factors with the core microRNA biogenesis machinery. Here, we review the regulation of microRNA biogenesis and activity, with particular focus on mechanisms of post-transcriptional control. Further understanding of the regulation of microRNA biogenesis and activity will undoubtedly provide important insights into normal development as well as pathological conditions such as cardiovascular disease and cancer.