In cells from all organisms studied to date two different types of RNAs are found: messenger RNAs (mRNAs), which are translated into proteins and so-called non-protein-coding RNAs (ncRNAs), which are not translated into proteins but function at the level of the RNA itself. Intriguingly, although only 1.5% of human DNA constitute protein-coding sequences, recent research has revealed that actually more than 90% of the genome is transcribed. This coincides with the discovery of several classes of non-coding, yet functional RNA during the last years, including microRNAs (miRNAs), regulating a plethora of biological processes and being involved in a variety of diseases. The therapeutic potential of miRNAs has recently been highlighted by studies in mouse and non-human primates depicting miRNAs as key molecules for future medicine.
Obesity, one of the most prevalent diseases worldwide, with more than 1.1 billion adults overweight and 300 million of them clinically obese, and furthermore predisposing to other common afflictions like type 2 diabetes, atherosclerosis, and osteoporosis, has also been associated with miRNAs, but only by a few studies so far, with the potential for many more. Indeed, we could identify several microRNAs with a functional role in adipogenesis. Among those, we characterized miR-27b as the first anti-adipogenic miRNA targeting PPARg, the adipogenic key regulator. Therefore, we aim at the functional characterization of miRNA/target pairs that regulate adipogenesis and obesity and related disorders, thereby resulting in novel candidates as potential drug targets which might contribute to the development of novel, innovative therapeutic opportunities for the treatment of the global obesity epidemic and its sequelae.