Role of non-coding RNAs in pancreatic beta-cell development and physiology

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The progression of diabetes is accompanied by increasing demand to the beta-cells to produce and secrete more insulin, requiring complex beta-cell adaptations. Functionally active and ubiquitous non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) have the capacity to take part in such adaptations as they have been shown to be key regulatory molecules in various biological processes. In the pancreatic islets, the function of ncRNAs and their contribution to disease development is beginning to be understood. Here, we review the different classes of ncRNAs, such as long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) and microRNAs (miRNAs), and their potential contribution to insulin secretion. A special focus will be on miRNAs and their regulatory function in beta-cell physiology and insulin exocytosis. As important players in gene regulation, ncRNAs have huge potential in opening innovative therapeutic avenues against diabetes and associated complications.

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