MicroRNAs (miRNAs) belong to a class of endogenous small noncoding RNAs that regulate gene expression at the posttranscriptional level, through both translational repression and mRNA destabilization. They are key regulators of kidney morphogenesis, modulating diverse biological processes in different renal cell lineages. Dysregulation of miRNA expression disrupts early kidney development and has been implicated in the pathogenesis of developmental kidney diseases. In this Review, we summarize current knowledge of miRNA biogenesis and function and discuss in detail the role of miRNAs in kidney morphogenesis and developmental kidney diseases, including congenital anomalies of the kidney and urinary tract and Wilms tumor. We conclude by discussing the utility of miRNAs as potentially novel biomarkers and therapeutic agents.
Débora Malta Cerqueira, Maliha Tayeb, Jacqueline Ho
Schematic illustration of the stages of metanephric kidney development.