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This article is part of the Research Topic Regulatory RNAs in the Nervous System

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Front. Cell. Neurosci., 03 January 2014 | http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fncel.2013.00283

The role of microRNAs in regulating neuronal connectivity

  • Division of Developmental Biology, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Research Foundation, Cincinnati, OH, USA

The assembly of functional neural circuits is critical for complex thoughts, behavior and general brain function. Precise construction of neural circuits requires orderly transition of sequential events from axon outgrowth, pathfinding, branching, to synaptogenesis. Each of these steps is required to be tightly regulated in order to achieve meticulous formation of neuronal connections. MicroRNAs (miRNAs), which silence gene expression post-transcriptionally via either inhibition of translation or destabilization of messenger RNAs, have emerged as key regulators of neuronal connectivity. The expression of miRNAs in neurons is often temporally and spatially regulated, providing critical timing and local mechanisms that prime neuronal growth cones for dynamic responses to extrinsic cues. Here we summarize recent findings of miRNA regulation of neuronal connectivity in a variety of experimental platforms.

Keywords: miRNAs, neuronal connectivity, axon pathfinding, axon branching, timing mechanisms, temporal regulation, heterochronic miRNAs, axon outgrowth

Citation: Chiu H, Alqadah A and Chang C (2014) The role of microRNAs in regulating neuronal connectivity. Front. Cell. Neurosci. 7:283. doi: 10.3389/fncel.2013.00283

Received: 01 October 2013; Accepted: 16 December 2013;
Published online: 03 January 2014.

Edited by:

Tommaso Pizzorusso, Università degli Studi di Firenze, Italy

Reviewed by:

Jay Gibson, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, USA
Federico Dajas-Bailador, University of Nottingham, UK

Copyright © 2014 Chiu, Alqadah and Chang. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

*Correspondence: Chieh Chang, Division of Developmental Biology, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Research Foundation, 240 Albert Sabin Way, S3.419, Cincinnati, OH 45229-3039, USA e-mail: chieh.chang1@gmail.com

Present address: Hui Chiu, Division of Biology and Biological Engineering and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA