Copyright © 2009 by the American Physiological Society. 2 MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small endogenous RNAs and are widely regarded as one of the most important regulators of gene expression in both plants and animals. To define the roles of miRNAs in fetal lung development, we profiled the miRNA expression pattern during lung development using a miRNA microarray. We identified 21 miRNAs that showed significant changes in expression during lung development. These miRNAs were grouped into four distinct clusters based on their expression pattern. Cluster 1 contained miRNAs whose expression increased as development progressed while clusters 2 and 3 showed the opposite trend of expression. miRNAs in Cluster 4 including miR-127 had the highest expression at the late stage of fetal lung development. Quantitative real-time PCR validated the microarray results of 6 selected miRNAs. In situ hybridization demonstrated that miR-127 expression gradually shifted from mesenchymal cells to epithelial cells as development progressed. Over-expression of miR-127 in fetal lung organ culture significantly decreased the terminal bud count, increased terminal and internal bud sizes and caused unevenness in bud sizes, indicating improper development. These findings suggest that miR-127 may have an important role in fetal lung development. Key words: lung development, microRNA, in situ hybridization, microarray, lung morphometry
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