MicroRNAs: the fine modulators of liver development and function

Authors

  • Yemiao Chen,

    Corresponding author
    1. Southwest Hospital, and Key Laboratory of Tumor Immunopathology of the Ministry of Education of China, Institute of Pathology and Southwest Cancer Center, Third Military Medical University, Chongqing, China
    2. Department of Development and Regeneration, Stem Cell Institute Leuven, Cluster Stem Cell Biology and Embryology, KU Leuven Medical School, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
    • Correspondence

      Yemiao Chen, Principal Investigator, Institute of Pathology and Southwest Cancer Center, Key Laboratory of Tumor Immunopathology of the Ministry of Education of China, Southwest Hospital, Third Military Medical University, Shapingba, Gaotanyan zhengjie 30, Chongqing, 400038, China

      Tel: +86 18580770267

      Fax: +86 23 68754431

      e-mail: yemiaochen@126.com

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    • Both authors contributed equally to this work.
  • Catherine M. Verfaillie

    1. Department of Development and Regeneration, Stem Cell Institute Leuven, Cluster Stem Cell Biology and Embryology, KU Leuven Medical School, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
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    • Both authors contributed equally to this work.

Abstract

MicroRNAs are a class of small non-coding RNAs involved in the transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression. The function of miRNAs in liver disease including hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), hepatitis, and alcoholic liver disease, have been widely studied and extensively reviewed. Increasing evidence demonstrates that miRNAs also play a critical role in normal liver development and in the fine-tuning of fundamental biological liver processes. In this review, we highlight the most recent findings on the role of miRNAs in liver specification and differentiation, liver cell development, as well as in the many metabolic functions of the liver, including glucose, lipid, iron and drug metabolism. These findings demonstrate an important role of miRNAs in normal liver development and function. Further researches will be needed to fully understand how miRNAs regulate liver generation and metabolic function, which should then lead to greater insights in liver biology and perhaps open up the possibility to correct errors that cause liver diseases or metabolic disorders.

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