Challenging Cellular Homeostasis: Spatial and Temporal Regulation of miRNAs

Naomi van Wijk, Keren Zohar, Michal Linial

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Mature microRNAs (miRNAs) are single-stranded non-coding RNA (ncRNA) molecules that act in post-transcriptional regulation in animals and plants. A mature miRNA is the end product of consecutive, highly regulated processing steps of the primary miRNA transcript. Following base-paring of the mature miRNA with its mRNA target, translation is inhibited, and the targeted mRNA is degraded. There are hundreds of miRNAs in each cell that work together to regulate cellular key processes, including development, differentiation, cell cycle, apoptosis, inflammation, viral infection, and more. In this review, we present an overlooked layer of cellular regulation that addresses cell dynamics affecting miRNA accessibility. We discuss the regulation of miRNA local storage and translocation among cell compartments. The local amounts of the miRNAs and their targets dictate their actual availability, which determines the ability to fine-tune cell responses to abrupt or chronic changes. We emphasize that changes in miRNA storage and compactization occur under induced stress and changing conditions. Furthermore, we demonstrate shared principles on cell physiology, governed by miRNA under oxidative stress, tumorigenesis, viral infection, or synaptic plasticity. The evidence presented in this review article highlights the importance of spatial and temporal miRNA regulation for cell physiology. We argue that limiting the research to mature miRNAs within the cytosol undermines our understanding of the efficacy of miRNAs to regulate cell fate under stress conditions.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number16152
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Ago
  • P-bodies
  • RISC
  • RNA degradation
  • oxidative stress
  • pre-miRNA processing
  • stress granules
  • translation control
  • viral infection

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Catalysis
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


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