OK, maybe you won’t find a bottle of miR-145 at the juice bar of your local gym anytime soon, but a paper published recently in Nature says that miR-145 is all you really need to turn mouse cardiac progenitor cells into smooth muscle. What’s more, both miR-145 and miR-143 team up to regulate a smooth ride into smooth muscle differentiation by nudging cells into a quiescent state.
Learning more about how these cells decide whether to keep quiet or divide could go a long way toward treating vascular diseases, such as atherosclerosis, and could ultimately give researchers another way to generate pluripotent stem cells.
Already, miR-145 has been fingered in the process of differentiation, but researchers at the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease, UCSF, and the U of R School of Medicine and Dentistry now show that this little miRNA is even more powerful than originally thought. For example, simply popping miR-145 into neural crest stem cells made most of them commit to a vascular smooth muscle fate within only 24 hours. For all the details, see Nature, July 2009.