Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune destruction of pancreatic islet beta cell disease, making it important to find a new alternative source of the islet beta cells to replace the damaged cells. hES (human embryonic stem) cells possess unlimited self-renewal and pluripotency and thus have the potential to provide an unlimited supply of different cell types for tissue replacement. The hES-T3 cells with normal female karyotype were first differentiated into EBs (embryoid bodies) and then induced to generate the T3pi (pancreatic islet-like cell clusters derived from T3 cells), which expressed pancreatic islet cell-specific markers of insulin, glucagon and somatostatin. The expression profiles of microRNAs and mRNAs from the T3pi were analysed and compared with those of undifferentiated hES-T3 cells and differentiated EBs. MicroRNAs negatively regulate the expression of protein-coding mRNAs. The T3pi showed very high expression of microRNAs, miR-186, miR-199a and miR-339, which down-regulated the expression of LIN28, PRDM1, CALB1, GCNT2, RBM47, PLEKHH1, RBPMS2 and PAK6. Therefore, these microRNAs and their target genes are very likely to play important regulatory roles in the development of pancreas and/or differentiation of islet cells, and they may be manipulated to increase the proportion of beta cells and insulin synthesis in the differentiated T3pi for cell therapy of type I diabetics.
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