Review abstract

Nature Cell Biology 11, 228 - 234 (2009)

Many roads to maturity: microRNA biogenesis pathways and their regulation

Julia Winter1,3, Stephanie Jung1,3, Sarina Keller1, Richard I. Gregory2 & Sven Diederichs1

MicroRNAs are important regulators of gene expression that control both physiological and pathological processes such as development and cancer. Although their mode of action has attracted great attention, the principles governing their expression and activity are only beginning to emerge. Recent studies have introduced a paradigm shift in our understanding of the microRNA biogenesis pathway, which was previously believed to be universal to all microRNAs. Maturation steps specific to individual microRNAs have been uncovered, and these offer a plethora of regulatory options after transcription with multiple proteins affecting microRNA processing efficiency. Here we review the recent advances in knowledge of the microRNA biosynthesis pathways and discuss their impact on post-transcriptional microRNA regulation during tumour development.

  1. Helmholtz-University-Group 'Molecular RNA Biology & Cancer', German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and Institute of Pathology, University of Heidelberg, B150 INF 581, D-69120 Heidelberg, Germany.
  2. Stem Cell Program, Children's Hospital Boston, Department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, Harvard Medical School, Harvard Stem Cell Institute, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.
  3. These authors contributed equally to the work.

Correspondence to: Sven Diederichs1 e-mail:


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