microRNA-mediated noise processing in cells: A fight or a game?

In the past decades, microRNAs (miRNA) have much attracted the attention of researchers at the interface between life and theoretical sciences for their involvement in post-transcriptional regulation and related diseases. Thanks to the always more sophisticated experimental techniques, the role of miRNAs as "noise processing units" has been further elucidated and two main ways of miRNA noise-control have emerged by combinations of theoretical and experimental studies. While on one side miRNAs were thought to buffer gene expression noise, it has recently been suggested that miRNAs could also increase the cell-to-cell variability of their targets. In this Mini Review, we focus on the role of miRNAs in molecular noise processing and on the advantages as well as current limitations of theoretical modelling.