The Role of MicroRNAs in the Pancreatic Differentiation of Pluripotent Stem Cells
Natalie Francis, Melanie Moore, Guy A. Rutter and Chris Burns
Affiliation: Endocrinology Section, Biotherapeutics Department, National Institute of Biological Standards and Control, Blanche Lane, South Mimms, Hertfordshire, EN6 3QG, UK.
The generation of β-cells in vitro is an attractive option for cell therapy treatments for type 1 diabetes and also
for the development of more accurate disease models. A number of studies have demonstrated that insulin-expressing
cells can be generated by the in vitro differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells. However, to date, these differentiation
protocols are often inefficient, time-consuming and highly variable. In many cases, this is a result of an incomplete
understanding of the regulatory processes involved in the differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells. One such process
is the control of gene expression by microRNAs (miRNAs). Given that miRNAs have the potential to influence cell
fate, we present in this short review the evidence that a further understanding of the role of miRNAs in pancreatic development
and function may be important in the on-going quest to generate insulin-secreting cells from pluripotent stem
Keywords: Differentiation, embryonic stem cells, endoderm, induced pluripotent stem cells, insulin, microRNA, pancreas, type
1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes.
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