Plasticity at the synapes: a role for microRNAs
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MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are emerging as key modulators of post-transcriptional gene regulation that bind complementary sequences of mRNA molecules and regulate translation and mRNA stability. The potentially vast impact of miRNA based mechanisms on synaptic plasticity and thereby brain diseases, such as neuropsychiatric disorders, is just starting to be recognized. Increased knowledge on the fundamental processes of synaptic function and plasticity will contribute to better understand brain disorders and more importantly, aid in finding proper treatments. Therefore, this literature study has, to the best of knowledge, reviewed all functional studies currently published, that provide evidence for a direct role of miRNAs in synaptic plasticity. The study focused on two major components of the dendrite, i.e. the postsynaptic density (PSD) and the actin cytoskeleton. This literature study illustrates the impact of miRNAs on genes localized in these two structures. This accentuates the crucial role of miRNAs in learning and memory, since both the PSD and the actin cytoskeleton are important features in synaptic plasticity. Taken together, this literature study highlighted the most recent developments in the regulation of mRNA translation at the synapse and strived to enrich our understanding of synaptic plasticity. Even though knowledge on the underlying mechanisms is still scarce, this study underlined that microRNAs play a pivotal role in synaptic plasticity by locally regulating gene expression.