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Researchers Discover MicroRNA Suppresses p63 Protein
Posted: March 12, 2008
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A genetic technique was then used to express microRNA in the inner layer of the skin, where stem cells proliferate at a fast clip. In a second set of experiments, microRNA-203 was blocked from functioning in the outer layer using an antagomir, a molecule that binds directly to microRNA-203 and shuts down its ability to carry out its function.
Researchers found that the stem cells proliferated significantly less than they did when microRNA-203 was not expressed. As a result, the mice formed very thin skin. Also, the stem cells lost their ability to proliferate, not because microRNA-203 killed them off but because it suppressed the activity of p63.
It was uncovered that the cells in the outer layer proliferated significantly more than they did when microRNA-203 was expressed. This was due to microRNA-203's ability to stop the translation of p63. Therefore, proliferating stem cells within the innermost layer of the epidermis and terminally differentiating cells swiftly transition as they exit this layer and move outward to the skin surface.
The researchers' findings may mean something to cancer research, as p63 is found in excess in cancer cells. The next step will examine whether low expression of microRNA-203 is associated with squamous cell carcinomas and whether by putting back microRNA-203, growth of these cancer cells can be inhibited.