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Non-canonical features of microRNAs: paradigms emerging from cardiovascular disease.

Nat Rev Cardiol. 2022 Mar 18. doi: 10.1038/s41569-022-00680-2. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35304600.

Authors/Editors: Santovito D, Weber C.
Publication Date: 2022



Research showing that microRNAs (miRNAs) are versatile regulators of gene expression has instigated tremendous interest in cardiovascular research. The overwhelming majority of studies are predicated on the dogmatic notion that miRNAs regulate the expression of specific target mRNAs by inhibiting mRNA translation or promoting mRNA decay in the RNA-induced silencing complex (RISC). These efforts mostly identified and dissected contributions of multiple regulatory networks of miRNA-target mRNAs to cardiovascular pathogenesis. However, evidence from studies in the past decade indicates that miRNAs also operate beyond this canonical paradigm, featuring non-conventional regulatory functions and cellular localizations that have a pathophysiological role in cardiovascular disease. In this Review, we highlight the functional relevance of atypical miRNA biogenesis and localization as well as RISC heterogeneity. Moreover, we delineate remarkable non-canonical examples of miRNA functionality, including direct interactions with proteins beyond the Argonaute family and their role in transcriptional regulation in the nucleus and in mitochondria. We scrutinize the relevance of non-conventional biogenesis and non-canonical functions of miRNAs in cardiovascular homeostasis and pathology, and contextualize how uncovering these non-conventional properties can expand the scope of translational research in the cardiovascular field and beyond.

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