MicroRNAs are small, non-coding, RNAs known for their powerful modulation of molecular processes, making them a major focus for studying pathological mechanisms. The human miR-146 family of microRNAs consists of two member genes - MIR146A and MIR146B. These two miRNAs are located on different chromosomes and exhibit differential regulation in many cases. However, they are nearly identical in sequence and share a seed sequence, thus they are predicted to target the same set of genes. A large proportion of the miR-146 literature focuses on its role in regulating the innate immune response in the context of various pathologies by modulating two widely studied target genes in the toll-like receptor signaling cascade. A growing subset of the literature reports a role of miR-146 in cardiovascular and renal disease, and data suggests there is exciting potential for miR-146 as a diagnostic and therapeutic target. Nevertheless, the some of the published literature is confounded by unclear and imprecise language concerning the specific effects of the two miR-146 family members. The present review will compare the genomic origin and regulation of miR-146a and miR-146b, discuss some approaches to overcome analytical and experimental challenges, and summarize findings in major areas of miR-146 research. Moving forward, careful evaluation of miR-146a/b specificity in analytical and experimental approaches will aid researchers in elucidating the functional relevance of differential regulation of the miR-146 family members in health and disease.
- Copyright © 2017, Physiological Genomics