We’ve written intensively about direct transdifferentiation induced by defined factors. The most protocols in this field are using transcription factors as a tool. Recently, few groups have demonstrated that microRNAs could be used as defined factors for reprogramming to iPS and direct transdifferentiation.
Archana Shenoy and Robert Blelloch reviewed the current progress and future directions in use of microRNAs for direct transdifferentation:
From a clinical standpoint, microRNAs are an enticing potential alternative to transcription factors. In particular, they can be introduced relatively easily into cells in their mature form without inducing the cell’s innate mature response. In contrast, transcription factors need to be introduced as DNA or as highly modified mRNAs. DNA is risky as it can permanently alter the cell’s genome, while microRNAs do not. microRNAs even exist stably within our plasma and are thought to be naturally transferred from one cell to another . Therefore, the introduction of microRNAs directly into patients to induce cell fate conversions does not seem far-fetched. Therefore, both in basic biology and translational medicine, microRNAs should be an explosive field for years to come.
Highly recommended to read!