Abstract

microRNAs (miRNAs) play essential roles in mouse embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and early embryo development. The exact mechanism by which miRNAs regulate cell fate transition during embryo development is still not clear. Recent studies have identified and captured various pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) that share similar characteristics with cells from different stages of pre- and post-implantation embryos. These PSCs provide valuable models to understand miRNA functions in early mammalian development. In this short review, we will summarize recent work towards understanding the function and mechanism of miRNAs in regulating the transition or conversion between different pluripotent states. In addition, we will highlight unresolved questions and key future directions related to miRNAs in pluripotent state transition. Studies in these areas will further our understanding of miRNA functions in early embryo development, and may lead to practical means to control human PSCs for clinical applications in regenerative medicine.

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