The paper, "Dcr-1 Maintains Drosophila Ovarian Stem Cells," was published on the Web site of Current Biology today.
MicroRNAs are single-stranded small RNA molecules believed to regulate the expression of other genes. The Xie Lab's findings show that the microRNA pathway is essential for controlling self-renewal of two types of stem cells in the Drosophila ovary.
"The findings were interesting to us because they demonstrated that the microRNA pathway is essential for controlling self-renewal or maintenance of two types of stem cells —germline stem cells and somatic stem cells," said Dr. Jin. "In the future, the small RNAs responsible for stem cell regulation could potentially be used to control stem cell functions in vivo and stem cell expansion in vitro."
"We are in the process of identifying the microRNAs that are important for stem cell self-renewal," said Dr. Xie. "Understanding the mechanisms controlling stem cell self-renewal will be crucial to our developing the ability to expand stem cell populations for performing tissue repair."