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Regina Bailey

MicroRNAs Direct Embryonic Development

By December 10, 2012

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Differentiating mouse embryonic stem cells (green = mesoderm progenitor cells, red = endoderm progenitor cells). The microRNAs identified in this study block endoderm formation, while enhancing mesoderm formation.
Image Credit: Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute

Sanford-Burnham researchers have discovered that a type of RNA molecule known as microRNA plays a major role in embryonic development. MicroRNAs have been found to direct the formation of embryonic germ layers (endoderm, mesoderm, and ectoderm). All tissues and organs are derived from these germ layers. In the cell, microRNAs do not code for proteins but regulate protein production.

According to researcher Mark Mercola, "We've now shown that microRNAs are powerful regulators of embryonic cell fate, but our study also demonstrates that screening techniques, combined with systems biology, provide a paradigm for whole-genome screening and its use in identifying molecular signals that control complex biological processes." This study of microRNAs revealed that certain microRNA families block the formation of the endoderm and enhance the formation of the mesoderm and ectoderm.

Learn more about this study, see:


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