Since the first report of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) using somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), much focus has been placed on iPSCs due to their great therapeutic potential for diseases such as abnormal development, degenerative disorders, and even cancers. Subsequently, Takahashi and Yamanaka took a novel approach by using four defined transcription factors to generate iPSCs in mice and human fibroblast cells. Scientists have since been trying to refine or develop better approaches to reprogramming, either by using different combinations of transcription factors or delivery methods. However, recent reports showed that the microRNA expression pattern plays a crucial role in somatic cell reprogramming and ectopic introduction of embryonic stem cell-specific microRNAs revert cells back to an ESC-like state, although, the exact mechanism underlying this effect remains unclear. This review describes recent work that has focused on microRNA-mediated approaches to somatic cell reprogramming as well as some of the pros and cons to these approaches and a possible mechanism of action. Based on the pivotal role of microRNAs in embryogenesis and somatic cell reprogramming, studies in this area must continue in order to gain a better understanding of the role of microRNAs in stem cells regulation and activity. J. Cell. Biochem. 114: 275–281, 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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