J R Soc Interface 2019 Sep 27; 16(158):20190437
US Army Research Office W911NF-14-1-0486
MicroRNAs form a class of short, non-coding RNA molecules which are essential for proper development in tissue-based plants and animals. To help explain their role in gene regulation, a number of mathematical and computational studies have demonstrated the potential canalizing effects of microRNAs. However, such studies have typically focused on the effects of microRNAs on only one or a few target genes. Consequently, it remains unclear how these small-scale effects add up to the experimentally observed developmental outcomes resulting from microRNA perturbation at the whole-genome level. To answer this question, we built a general computational model of cell differentiation to study the effect of microRNAs in genome-scale gene regulatory networks. Our experiments show that in large gene regulatory networks, microRNAs can control differentiation time without significantly changing steady-state gene expression profiles. This temporal regulatory role cannot be naturally replicated using protein-based transcription factors alone. While several microRNAs have been shown to regulate differentiation time
Posner, Russell and Laubenbacher, Reinhard, "Connecting the molecular function of microRNAs to cell differentiation dynamics." (2019). Faculty Research 2019. 207.