The development of the heart is a complex process whereby the linear straight and peristaltic contracting tube is progressively transformed into a four-chambered heart with synchronous contraction. During this morphogenetic process, the heart muscle-forming cells become increasingly more differentiated, losing their dividing capacity soon after birth. This lack of proliferation capacity compromises cardiac homeostasis in case of severe biological insults. Thus, the search of new therapies to repair the compromised myocardium is currently an important biomedical milestone. We have recently gained fundamental knowledge about the transcriptional processes that govern cardiac myocyte formation, which are at the bases of cellular and molecular therapeutical approaches. Over the last years, a new paradigm is emerging whereby the transcriptional pathways might be modulated; i.e. microRNAs. microRNAs are small (22-24nt). microRNAs are capable of interfering with mRNA stability and/or translational rate of a wide array of gene transcripts. Within this review, we give an overview of the state-of-the-art on the tissue distribution and functional roles of distinct microRNAs during cardiovascular development and disease.
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