Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Dental Medicine

First Committee Member

Karl Kingsley

Second Committee Member

Brian Chrzan

Third Committee Member

Joshua Polanski

Fourth Committee Member

Jennifer Pharr

Number of Pages



In human development there are many factors that cause our cells to form certain organs and systems with specific functions. These cells original start as stem cells before biological processes take over and cause differentiation into different cell lines. Since these undifferentiated stem cells have been discovered, many studies have been done to try and find the exact mechanism that causes a cell to change into another specific cell. Due to the multiple sources that stem cells can be harvest from the human body, this knowledge of how differentiation works could lead to breakthroughs in regenerative medicine.

Traditional biomarkers have been the focus of much research in identifying characteristics of stem cells. Biomarkers include Oct-4, Sox-2, NANOG, and Nestin. The aforementioned biomarkers have been shown to identify stem cells that have pluripotent properties with potential to differentiate.

MicroRNA (miRNA) are small nucleotide chains that have been the topic of research in recent years. These chains have been shown to be involved in affecting gene expression and silencing. This fact has led to further studies to try and identify miRNA’s relationship with stem cell’s potential for differentiation.

The data for the following two studies provide evidence of the existence of certain miRNAs in a unique source of stem cells, specifically dental pulp stem cells (DPSC). The miRNA molecules investigated in these DPSCs include miR-16, miR-27, miR-124, miR-135, and miR-218. Evidence suggests the presence of specific miRNA in certain DPSC lines which include miR-16, miR-27, miR-124 and miR-218. With differential expression of miR-27, miR- 124 and miR-218 in our different DPSC lines, evidence suggest these miRNA may impact the cells potential for differentiation.

Furthermore, these miRNA molecules were cross-referenced with the expression of certain characteristics of these DPSC line. Characteristics include the presence of biomarkers Oct-4, Sox-2, NANOG and Nestin. In addition, we also looked at their relation to the DPSC lines viability and proliferation rates. Our results have shown that biomarkers Oct-4, Sox-2 and Nanog correlated more with total live cell count whereas miRNAs miR-27, miR218, miR-124 and miR- 16 were more closely related to cellular viability. Further research will be needed to more fully understand the relationship.


DPSC; Microrna



File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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