The microRNA miR-375 regulates myotrophin, a protein involved in the final stages of insulin secretion from pancreatic islet cells, according to a publication in Nature this week.

The results suggest miR-375 as a possible new avenue for diabetes treatment, according to lead author Markus Stoffel, from Rockefeller University in New York. Of possibly greater immediate significance is a growing belief that microRNAs play other important roles in the pancreas, he said.

"We took an unbiased approach and cloned all of the microRNAs from a pancreatic beta cell line," Stoffel told The Scientist. His group found more than 60, including novel ones that are highly specific to beta cells, some of which had only previously been described in the central nervous system.

To determine their functionality, the team overexpressed the microRNAs or inhibited endogenous microRNAs in beta cells and studied the effects on glucose-induced insulin secretion. miR-375 had a...

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