A small RNA element regulates the balance between differentiation and proliferation of cardiac muscle cells in mice, according to an advance online publication in Nature.
MicroRNAs are known to inhibit the translation of important developmental regulator molecules across a wide range of species. But it has so far proven tricky to identify specific targets for microRNAs and to understand their role in regulating development. In this Article, Deepak Srivastava and colleagues use an algorithm to show that Hand2, a transcription factor that promotes proliferation of ventricular heart cells, is a conserved target of the miR-1 microRNA. In addition, the authors show that excess miR-1 in the heart inhibits the proliferation of these cells.
Finally, the authors show that this microRNA pathway operates downstream of a growth factor known to regulate heart cell proliferation. This study reveals a new mechanism for controlling the development of muscle cells during organogenesis.
Deepak Srivastava (University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX, USA. Currently at: University of California at San Francisco, CA, USA)
(C) Nature press release.
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