The Musashi family is an evolutionarily conserved group of RNA-binding proteins. In mammal, two members of the group, Msi1 and Msi2, have been identified to date. Msi1 is considered to play roles in maintaining the stem cell status (stemness) of neural stem/progenitor cells in adults and in the development of central nervous system through translational regulation of its target mRNAs, which encode regulators of signal transduction and the cell cycle. Recently, strong expression of Msi1 in various somatic stem/progenitor cells of adult tissues, such as eye, gut, stomach, breast, and hair follicle, has been reported. The protein is also expressed in various cancer cells, and ectopically emerging cells have been found in neural tissues of patients with diseases involving neural disorder, including epilepsy. Many novel target mRNAs and regulatory pathways of Msi1 have been reported in recent years. Here, we present a review of the functions and action mechanisms of Msi1 protein and discuss possible directions for further study.
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