Astrocytes at the Hub of the Stress Response: Potential Modulation of Neurogenesis by miRNAs in Astrocyte-Derived Exosomes
Neurogenesis occurs throughout adulthood in the mammalian brain. Neural stem cells (NSCs) exist in three distinct areas of the brain: the subventricular zone, the olfactory bulb, and the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small noncoding RNA molecules that posttranscriptionally regulate gene expression. Epigenetic regulation of gene expression, which includes DNA methylation and histone modification, plays a significant role in modulating NSC proliferation and differentiation. However, the functions of miRNAs in neurogenesis are just beginning to be understood. Based on the recent literature, miRNAs are suggested to play an important role in the epigenetic regulation of NSCs and differentiation of lineage populations, which include neurons, astrocytes, and oligodendrocytes. Recent studies have elucidated the roles of miRNAs in embryonic and adult neurogenesis, specifically, their involvement in stem cell maintenance and differentiation, neuronal maturation and neurite outgrowth, dendritogenesis, and spine formation. The cross-talk between miRNAs and epigenetic regulators appears to modulate neurogenesis in the adult mammalian brain. Since the dysfunction in miRNA machinery contributes to many types of neurodegenerative disorders, a better understanding of how miRNAs influence the neurogenesis and differentiation may offer novel targets for therapeutic application.