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Are microRNA required for ovarian stem cells? February 20, 2007

Posted by Sacha in Genetics, microRNA, Science.
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A report was published this weekend in the journal Current Biology titled “Dcr-1 Maintains Drosophila Ovarian Stem Cells.”  The authors were Zhigang Jin, Ph.D, and Ting Xie, Ph.D, from Stowers Institute for Medical Research (Missouri) and the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology (U of Kansas), respectively. 

According to this paper, the ovaries of Drosophila (a type of small fly) contain three types of adult stem cells: 
Germline stem cells (GSCs)
Escort stem cells (ESCs) and
Somatic stem cells (SSCs)

The authors go into much detail about GSCs and SSCs and the role of Dicer-1(Dcr-1) ribonuclease to maintain them in the Drosophila ovary.

So what is this review doing on an miRNA blog?  In the last paragraph of the article, Xie and Jin state “Because Dcr-1 is an essential component of the miRNA pathway in Drosophila, we further propose that miRNAs processed by Dcr-1 are essential for controlling self-renewal of GSCs and SSCs.”  They go on to explain the problems associated with the absence of miRNA generated by Dcr-1, such as depletion of stem cells.

An article on Biology News Net quoted Dr. Xie on the importance of the role of miRNA:

“We are in the process of identifying the microRNAs that are important for stem cell self-renewal,” said Dr. Xie. “Understanding the mechanisms controlling stem cell self-renewal will be crucial to our developing the ability to expand stem cell populations for performing tissue repair.”

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