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Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 632329, 12 pages
Review Article

Natural Killer Cell Regulation by MicroRNAs in Health and Disease

Division of Oncology, Department of Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, 660 S Euclid Avenue, Campus Box 8007, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA

Received 10 August 2012; Accepted 12 September 2012

Academic Editor: Wolfgang Arthur Schulz

Copyright © 2012 Jeffrey W. Leong et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Natural killer (NK) cells are innate immune lymphocytes that are critical for normal host defense against infections and mediate antitumor immune responses. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a family of small, noncoding RNAs that posttranscriptionally regulate the majority of cellular processes and pathways. Our understanding of how miRNAs regulate NK cells biology is limited, but recent studies have provided novel insight into their expression by NK cells, and how they contribute to the regulation of NK cell development, maturation, survival, and effector function. Here, we review the expression of miRNAs by NK cells, their contribution to cell intrinsic and extrinsic control of NK cell development and effector response, and their dysregulation in NK cell malignancies.