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JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

Regulatory non-coding RNAs in pluripotent stem cells

Alessandro Rosa, Ali H Brivanlou
International Journal of Molecular Sciences 2013, 14 (7): 14346-73
23852015
The most part of our genome encodes for RNA transcripts are never translated into proteins. These include families of RNA molecules with a regulatory function, which can be arbitrarily subdivided in short (less than 200 nucleotides) and long non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs). MicroRNAs, which act post-transcriptionally to repress the function of target mRNAs, belong to the first group. Included in the second group are multi-exonic and polyadenylated long ncRNAs (lncRNAs), localized either in the nucleus, where they can associate with chromatin remodeling complexes to regulate transcription, or in the cytoplasm, acting as post-transcriptional regulators. Pluripotent stem cells, such as embryonic stem cells (ESCs) or induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), represent useful systems for modeling normal development and human diseases, as well as promising tools for regenerative medicine. To fully explore their potential, however, a deep understanding of the molecular basis of stemness is crucial. In recent years, increasing evidence of the importance of regulation by ncRNAs in pluripotent cells is accumulating. In this review, we will discuss recent findings pointing to multiple roles played by regulatory ncRNAs in ESC and iPSCs, where they act in concert with signaling pathways, transcriptional regulatory circuitries and epigenetic factors to modulate the balance between pluripotency and differentiation.

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