The discovery of small noncoding RNA, including P-element-induced wimpy testis-interacting RNA, small interfering RNA, and microRNA, has energized research in reproductive medicine. In the two decades since the identification of small RNA, first in Caenorhabditis elegans and then in other animals, scientists in many disciplines have made significant progress in elucidating their biology. A powerful battery of tools, including knockout mice and small RNA mimics and antagonists, has facilitated investigation into the functional roles and therapeutic potential of these small RNA pathways. Current data indicate that small RNA play significant roles in normal development and physiology and pathological conditions of the reproductive tracts of females and males. Biologically plausible mRNA targets for these microRNA are aggressively being discovered. The next phase of research will focus on elucidating the clinical utility of small RNA-selective agonists and antagonists.
Hawkins SM, Buchold GM, Matzuk MM. (2011) Minireview: The Roles of Small RNA Pathways in Reproductive Medicine. Mol Endocrinol [Epub ahead of print]. [abstract]