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Research Highlights

Research Highlights /

Research Highlights

Discovery of MicroRNA that Maintains Primordial Germ Cells

Sep 29, 2020

SNU Professor HAN Jae Yong of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and his research team have discovered a microRNA (miRNA) (a short RNA molecule which regulates the target messenger RNA transcripts and causes gene repression) that maintains undifferentiated properties of blastoderm and primordial germ cells (PGC) in chickens. RNA molecules play an active role in controlling gene expression, whereby miRNA molecules direct the assembly of proteins.

The research team announced that it had discovered the mechanism of controlling development and differentiation of primordial embryo or germ cells. MiR-181a* inhibited the differentiation of PGCs by silencing HOXA1 expression. Also, it prevented PGCs from embarking on meiosis through the repression of NR6A1. In fact, miRNAs innately regulate the differentiation fate of blastoderms and PGCs. Moreover, certain miRNAs such as miR-302a and miR-456 control SOX11 and function as post-transcriptional coregulators to maintain the undifferentiated state of the chicken blastoderm.

The results of this research make it easy to modify development and differentiation of stem cells or germ cells of chickens. This will enable scientists to manipulate the gene condition of chickens for obtaining biological molecules such as insulin. Furthermore, the technology of preserving endangered animals will be significantly advanced. If this research result in chickens proves applicable to humans, further applications for rare disease treatment will be feasible. The research team has published its findings in the June 13, 2011 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Written by JUNG Yu Jin, SNU English Editor, yjjung0503@snu.ac.kr
Proofread by Brett Johnson, SNU English Editor