Aberrant cholesterol/lipid homeostasis is linked to a number of diseases prevalent in the developed world, including metabolic syndrome, type II diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. We have previously uncovered gene regulatory mechanisms of the sterol regulatory element-binding protein (SREBP) family of transcription factors, which control the expression of genes involved in cholesterol and lipid biosynthesis and uptake. Intriguingly, we recently discovered conserved microRNAs (miR-33a/b) embedded within intronic sequences of the human SREBF genes that act in a concerted manner with their host gene products to regulate cholesterol/lipid homeostasis. Indeed, miR-33a/b control the levels of ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporter ABCA1, a cholesterol efflux pump critical for high-density lipoprotein (HDL) synthesis and reverse cholesterol transport from peripheral tissues. Importantly, antisense inhibition of miR-33 in mice results in elevated HDL and decreased atherosclerosis. Interestingly, miR-33a/b also act in the fatty acid/lipid homeostasis pathway by controlling the fatty acid β-oxidation genes carnitine O-octanoyltransferase (CROT), hydroxyacyl-coenzyme A-dehydrogenase (HADHB), and carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1A (CPT1A), as well as the energy sensor AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPKα1), the NAD(+)-dependent sirtuin SIRT6, and the insulin signaling intermediate IRS2, key regulators of glucose and lipid metabolism. These results have revealed a highly integrated microRNA (miRNA)-host gene circuit governing cholesterol/lipid metabolism and energy homeostasis in mammals that may have important therapeutic implications for the treatment of cardiometabolic disorders.
MicroRNAs regulate gene expression posttranscriptionally and function within the cells in which they are transcribed. However, recent evidence suggests that microRNAs can be transferred between cells and mediate target gene repression. We find that endogenous miR-155 and miR-146a, two critical microRNAs that regulate inflammation, are released from dendritic cells within exosomes and are subsequently taken up by recipient dendritic cells. Following uptake, exogenous microRNAs mediate target gene repression and can reprogramme the cellular response to endotoxin, where exosome-delivered miR-155 enhances while miR-146a reduces inflammatory gene expression. We also find that miR-155 and miR-146a are present in exosomes and pass between immune cells in vivo, as well as demonstrate that exosomal miR-146a inhibits while miR-155 promotes endotoxin-induced inflammation in mice. Together, our findings provide strong evidence that endogenous microRNAs undergo a functional transfer between immune cells and constitute a mechanism of regulating the inflammatory response.
Abundantly expressed in fetal tissues and adult muscle, the developmentally regulated H19 long noncoding RNA (lncRNA) has been implicated in human genetic disorders and cancer. However, how H19 acts to regulate gene function has remained enigmatic, despite the recent implication of its encoded miR-675 in limiting placental growth. We noted that vertebrate H19 harbors both canonical and noncanonical binding sites for the let-7 family of microRNAs, which plays important roles in development, cancer, and metabolism. Using H19 knockdown and overexpression, combined with in vivo crosslinking and genome-wide transcriptome analysis, we demonstrate that H19 modulates let-7 availability by acting as a molecular sponge. The physiological significance of this interaction is highlighted in cultures in which H19 depletion causes precocious muscle differentiation, a phenotype recapitulated by let-7 overexpression. Our results reveal an unexpected mode of action of H19 and identify this lncRNA as an important regulator of the major let-7 family of microRNAs.
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) and macrophages are fundamental components of the stem cell niche and function coordinately to regulate haematopoietic stem cell self-renewal and mobilization. Recent studies indicate that mitophagy and healthy mitochondrial function are critical to the survival of stem cells, but how these processes are regulated in MSCs is unknown. Here we show that MSCs manage intracellular oxidative stress by targeting depolarized mitochondria to the plasma membrane via arrestin domain-containing protein 1-mediated microvesicles. The vesicles are then engulfed and re-utilized via a process involving fusion by macrophages, resulting in enhanced bioenergetics. Furthermore, we show that MSCs simultaneously shed micro RNA-containing exosomes that inhibit macrophage activation by suppressing Toll-like receptor signalling, thereby de-sensitizing macrophages to the ingested mitochondria. Collectively, these studies mechanistically link mitophagy and MSC survival with macrophage function, thereby providing a physiologically relevant context for the innate immunomodulatory activity of MSCs.
Cell proliferation during T cell development and effector responses require the resetting of metabolic activity to fit energy and anabolic needs. show a critical role for a specific microRNA family in this process.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are endogenous similar to 22-nucleotide RNAs that mediate important gene-regulatory events by pairing to the mRNAs of protein-coding genes to direct their repression. Repression of these regulatory targets leads to decreased translational efficiency and/or decreased mRNA levels, but the relative contributions of these two outcomes have been largely unknown, particularly for endogenous targets expressed at low-to-moderate levels. Here, we use ribosome profiling to measure the overall effects on protein production and compare these to simultaneously measured effects on mRNA levels. For both ectopic and endogenous miRNA regulatory interactions, lowered mRNA levels account for most (>= 84%) of the decreased protein production. These results show that changes in mRNA levels closely reflect the impact of miRNAs on gene expression and indicate that destabilization of target mRNAs is the predominant reason for reduced protein output.
In multicellular organisms, cell-to-cell communication is of particular importance for the proper development and function of the organism as a whole. Intensive studies over the past three years suggesting horizontal transfer of secreted microRNAs (miRNAs) between cells point to a potentially novel role for these molecules in intercellular communication. Using a microvesicle-dependent, or RNA-binding protein-associated, active trafficking system, secreted miRNAs can be delivered into recipient cells where they function as endogenous miRNAs, simultaneously regulating multiple target genes or signaling events. In this Opinion, we summarize recent literature on the biogenesis and uptake of secreted miRNAs, propose a possible working model for how secreted miRNAs might be sorted and transferred between cells and speculate on their biological significance.
Defects in insulin signalling are among the most common and earliest defects that predispose an individual to the development of type 2 diabetes(1-3). MicroRNAs have been identified as a new class of regulatory molecules that influence many biological functions, including metabolism(4,5). However, the direct regulation of insulin sensitivity by microRNAs in vivo has not been demonstrated. Here we show that the expression of microRNAs 103 and 107 (miR-103/107) is upregulated in obese mice. Silencing of miR-103/107 leads to improved glucose homeostasis and insulin sensitivity. In contrast, gain of miR-103/107 function in either liver or fat is sufficient to induce impaired glucose homeostasis. We identify caveolin-1, a critical regulator of the insulin receptor, as a direct target gene of miR-103/107. We demonstrate that caveolin-1 is upregulated upon miR-103/107 inactivation in adipocytes and that this is concomitant with stabilization of the insulin receptor, enhanced insulin signalling, decreased adipocyte size and enhanced insulin-stimulated glucose uptake. These findings demonstrate the central importance of miR-103/107 to insulin sensitivity and identify a new target for the treatment of type 2 diabetes and obesity.
Intercellular exchange of protein and RNA-containing microparticles is an increasingly important mode of cell-cell communication. Here we investigate if mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) known for secreting therapeutic paracrine factors also secrete RNA-containing microparticles. We observed that human embryonic stem cell (hESC)-derived MSC conditioned medium contained small RNAs (less than 300 nt) encapsulated in cholesterol-rich phospholipid vesicles as evidenced by their RNase sensitivity only in the presence of a sodium dodecyl sulfate-based cell lysis buffer, phospholipase A2 and a chelator of cholesterol, cyclodextrin and the restoration of their lower than expected density by detergent or phospholipase A2 treatment. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) such as hsa-let-7b and hsa-let-7g were present in a high precursor (pre)- to mature miRNA ratio by microarray analysis and quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction. The pre-miRNAs were cleaved to mature miRNA by RNase III in vitro. High performance liquid chromatography-purified RNA-containing vesicles have a hydrodynamic radius of 55-65 nm and were readily taken up by H9C2 cardiomyocytes. This study suggests that MSCs could facilitate miRNA-mediated intercellular communication by secreting microparticles enriched for pre-miRNA.