microRNAs of parasitic helminths – identification, characterization and potential as drug targets

Britton, C. , Winter, A. D., Gillan, V. and Devaney, E. (2014) microRNAs of parasitic helminths – identification, characterization and potential as drug targets. International Journal for Parasitology: Drugs and Drug Resistance, 4(2), pp. 85-94. (doi: 10.1016/j.ijpddr.2014.03.001)

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microRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs involved in post-transcriptional gene regulation. They were first identified in the free-living nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, where the miRNAs lin-4 and let-7 were shown to be essential for regulating correct developmental progression. The sequence of let-7 was subsequently found to be conserved in higher organisms and changes in expression of let-7, as well as other miRNAs, are associated with certain cancers, indicating important regulatory roles. Some miRNAs have been shown to have essential functions, but the roles of many are currently unknown. With the increasing availability of genome sequence data, miRNAs have now been identified from a number of parasitic helminths, by deep sequencing of small RNA libraries and bioinformatic approaches. While some miRNAs are widely conserved in a range of organisms, others are helminth-specific and many are novel to each species. Here we review the potential roles of miRNAs in regulating helminth development, in interacting with the host environment and in development of drug resistance. Use of fluorescently-labeled small RNAs demonstrates uptake by parasites, at least in vitro. Therefore delivery of miRNA inhibitors or mimics has potential to alter miRNA activity, providing a useful tool for probing the roles of miRNAs and suggesting novel routes to therapeutics for parasite control.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Devaney, Professor Eileen and Winter, Dr Alan and Britton, Dr Collette and Gillan, Dr Victoria
Authors: Britton, C., Winter, A. D., Gillan, V., and Devaney, E.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Biodiversity Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
Journal Name:International Journal for Parasitology: Drugs and Drug Resistance
Publisher:Elsevier Ltd. on behalf of Australian Society for Parasitology Inc.
ISSN (Online):2211-3207
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.
First Published:First published in International Journal for Parasitology: Drugs and Drug Resistance 4(2):85-94
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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