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Cellular and molecular life sciences : CMLS


Invariant natural killer T cells (iNKT) are a prevalent population of innate-like T cells in mice, but quite rare in humans that are critical for regulation of the innate and adaptive immune responses during antimicrobial immunity, tumor rejection, and inflammatory diseases. Multiple transcription factors and signaling molecules that contribute to iNKT cell selection and functional differentiation have been identified. However, the full molecular network responsible for regulating and maintaining iNKT populations remains unclear. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are an abundant class of evolutionarily conserved, small, non-coding RNAs that regulate gene expression post-transcriptionally. Previous reports uncovered the important roles of miRNAs in iNKT cell development and function using Dicer mutant mice. In this review, we discuss the emerging roles of individual miRNAs in iNKT cells reported by our group and other groups, including miR-150, miR-155, miR-181, let-7, miR-17 ~ 92 cluster, and miR-183-96-182 cluster. It is likely that iNKT cell development, differentiation, homeostasis, and functions are orchestrated through a multilayered network comprising interactions among master transcription factors, signaling molecules, and dynamically expressed miRNAs. We provide a comprehensive view of the molecular mechanisms underlying iNKT cell differentiation and function controlled by dynamically expressed miRNAs.

Medical Subject Headings

Animals; Cell Differentiation; Gene Expression; Humans; MicroRNAs; Natural Killer T-Cells; Signal Transduction

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