MicroRNAs: modulators of cell identity, and their applications in tissue engineering.
ABSTRACT: MicroRNAs post-transcriptionally regulate the expression of approximately 60% of the mammalian genes, and have an important role in maintaining the differentiated state of somatic cells through the expression of unique tissuespecific microRNA sets. Likewise, the stemness of pluripotent cells is also sustained by embryonic stem cell-enriched microRNAs, which regulate genes involved in cell cycle, cell signaling and epigenetics, among others. Thus, microRNAs work as modulator molecules that ensure the appropriate expression profile of each cell type. Manipulation of microRNA expression might determine the cell fate. Indeed, microRNA-mediated reprogramming can change the differentiated status of somatic cells towards stemness or, conversely, microRNAs can also transform stem- into differentiated-cells both in vitro and in vivo. In this Review, we outline what is currently known in this field, focusing on the applications of microRNA in tissue engineering.
Project description:Cancer stem-like cells, possessing "stemness" properties, play crucial roles in progression, metastasis, and drug resistance in various cancers. Viral microRNAs (such as EBV-miR-BART7-3p), as exogenous regulators, have been discovered to regulate malignant progression of nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC), suggesting a possible role of viral microRNAs in imposing stemness. In this study, we found that EBV-miR-BART7-3p induce stemness of NPC cells. We firstly reported that EBV-miR-BART7-3p increased the percentage of side population cells, the development of tumor spheres, and the expression level of stemness markers in vitro. This viral microRNA also enhanced stem-like or cancer-initiating properties of NPC cells in vivo. Besides, we identified SMAD7 as a novel target gene of EBV-miR-BART7-3p in addition to PTEN gene we previously reported; this viral microRNA suppressed SMAD7, led to activation of TGF-? signaling, and eventually enhanced the stemness of NPC cells. Silencing of SMAD7 resembled the effects generated by EBV-miR-BART7-3p in NPC cells. After reconstitution of SMAD7, EBV-miR-BART7-3p-expressing cells underwent a phenotypic reversion. EBV-positive NPC cells were used to enable experimental validation. Finally, we further discovered that EBV-miR-BART7-3p increased chemo-resistance of NPC in vitro and in vivo, supporting that EBV-miR-BART7-3 resulted in increased stemness of NPC cells and lead to drug resistance and cancer recurrence. Overall, this study uncovered a novel mechanism underlying viral microRNA-associated stemness of NPC cells. This viral microRNA and its associated cellular genes may be potential therapeutic targets for restraining chemo-resistance and recurrence of NPC.
Project description:MicroRNAs are critical regulators of stem cell behavior. The miR-103/107 family is preferentially expressed in the stem cell-enriched corneal limbal epithelium and plays an important role in coordinating several intrinsic characteristics of limbal epithelial stem cells. To elucidate further the mechanisms by which miRs-103/107 function in regulating limbal epithelial stem cells, we investigate the global effects of miRs-103/107 on gene expression in an unbiased manner. Using antagomirs-103/107, we knocked down endogenous miRs-103/107 in keratinocytes and conducted an mRNA profiling study. We show that miRs-103/107 target mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase kinase 7 (MAP3K7) and thereby negatively regulate the p38/AP-1 pathway, which directs epithelial cells towards a differentiated state. Pharmacological inhibition of p38 increases holoclone colony formation, a measure of proliferative capacity. This suggests that the negative regulation of p38 by miRs-103/107 contributes to enhanced proliferative capacity, which is a hallmark of stem cells. Since miRs-103/107 also promote increased holoclone colony formation by regulating JNK activation through non-canonical Wnt signaling, we believe that this microRNA family preserves "stemness" by mediating the crosstalk between the Wnt/JNK and MAP3K7/p38/AP-1 pathways.
Project description:Somatic cells can be reprogrammed to reach an embryonic stem cell-like state by overexpression of defined factors. Recent studies have greatly improved the efficiency of the reprogramming process but the underlying mechanisms regulating the transition from a somatic to a pluripotent state are still relatively unknown. MicroRNAs (miRs) are small noncoding RNAs that primarily regulate target gene expression post-transcriptionally. Here we present a systematic and comprehensive study of microRNAs in mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) during the early stage of cell fate decisions and reprogramming to a pluripotent state, in which significant transcriptional and epigenetic changes occur. One microRNA found to be highly induced during this stage of reprogramming, miR-135b, targeted the expression of extracellular matrix (ECM) genes including Wisp1 and Igfbp5. Wisp1 was shown to be a key regulator of additional ECM genes that serve as barriers to reprogramming. Regulation of Wisp 1 is likely mediated through biglycan, a glycoprotein highly expressed in MEFs that is silenced in reprogrammed cells. Collectively, this report reveals a novel link between microRNA-mediated regulation of ECM formation and somatic cell reprogramming, and demonstrates that microRNAs are powerful tools to dissect the intracellular and extracellular molecular mechanisms of reprogramming.
Project description:MicroRNAs are important gene regulators involved in many biological processes, including stemness maintenance and cellular reprogramming. Current methods used in loss-of-function studies of microRNAs mainly include locked nucleic acid (LNA) oligonucleotides and miRZip inhibitors, which have several limitations. Due to their unique gene structures and small sizes, there is no efficient or simple strategy to knock down or knock out microRNAs or whole microRNA clusters. Here, we demonstrate knockdown of the miR-302/367 cluster by using the Kruppel-associated box repressor domain fused with specific transcription activator-like effectors (TALEs) designed to bind the miR-302/367 cluster promoter. We also designed two pairs of TALE nucleases (TALENs) to efficiently delete the miR-302/367 cluster in primary human fibroblasts and determined that knockout of the miR-302/367 cluster completely blocked induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) generation. Together, our results demonstrate that TALE-based transcriptional repressor and TALENs are two promising approaches for loss-of-function studies of microRNA clusters in somatic cells and pluripotent stem cells.
Project description:Human multipotent mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) have the potential to differentiate into multiple cell types, although little is known about factors that control their fate. Differentiation-specific microRNAs may play a key role in stem cell self-renewal and differentiation. We propose that specific intracellular signaling pathways modulate gene expression during differentiation by regulating microRNA expression.Illumina mRNA and NCode microRNA expression analyses were performed on MSC and their differentiated progeny. A combination of bioinformatic prediction and pathway inhibition was used to identify microRNAs associated with platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) signaling.The pattern of microRNA expression in MSC is distinct from that in pluripotent stem cells, such as human embryonic stem cells. Specific populations of microRNAs are regulated in MSC during differentiation targeted toward specific cell types. Complementary mRNA expression analysis increases the pool of markers characteristic of MSC or differentiated progeny. To identify microRNA expression patterns affected by signaling pathways, we examined the PDGF pathway found to be regulated during osteogenesis by microarray studies. A set of microRNAs bioinformatically predicted to respond to PDGF signaling was experimentally confirmed by direct PDGF inhibition.Our results demonstrate that a subset of microRNAs regulated during osteogenic differentiation of MSCs is responsive to perturbation of the PDGF pathway. This approach not only identifies characteristic classes of differentiation-specific mRNAs and microRNAs, but begins to link regulated molecules with specific cellular pathways.
Project description:Adult stem cells (ASCs) in vertebrates and model invertebrates (e.g. Drosophila melanogaster) are typically long-lived, lineage-restricted, clonogenic and quiescent cells with somatic descendants and tissue/organ-restricted activities. Such ASCs are mostly rare, morphologically undifferentiated, and undergo asymmetric cell division. Characterized by 'stemness' gene expression, they can regulate tissue/organ homeostasis, repair and regeneration. By contrast, analysis of other animal phyla shows that ASCs emerge at different life stages, present both differentiated and undifferentiated phenotypes, and may possess amoeboid movement. Usually pluri/totipotent, they may express germ-cell markers, but often lack germ-line sequestering, and typically do not reside in discrete niches. ASCs may constitute up to 40% of animal cells, and participate in a range of biological phenomena, from whole-body regeneration, dormancy, and agametic asexual reproduction, to indeterminate growth. They are considered legitimate units of selection. Conceptualizing this divergence, we present an alternative stemness metaphor to the Waddington landscape: the 'wobbling Penrose' landscape. Here, totipotent ASCs adopt ascending/descending courses of an 'Escherian stairwell', in a lifelong totipotency pathway. ASCs may also travel along lower stemness echelons to reach fully differentiated states. However, from any starting state, cells can change their stemness status, underscoring their dynamic cellular potencies. Thus, vertebrate ASCs may reflect just one metazoan ASC archetype.
Project description:Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are a small part of the heterogeneous tumor cell population possessing self-renewal and multilineage differentiation potential as well as a great ability to sustain tumorigenesis. The molecular pathways underlying CSC phenotype are not yet well characterized. MicroRNAs (miRs) are small noncoding RNAs that play a powerful role in biological processes. Early studies have linked miRs to the control of self-renewal and differentiation in normal and cancer stem cells. We aimed to study the functional role of miRs in human breast cancer stem cells (BCSCs), also named mammospheres. We found that miR-221 was upregulated in BCSCs compared to their differentiated counterpart. Similarly, mammospheres from T47D cells had an increased level of miR-221 compared to differentiated cells. Transfection of miR-221 in T47D cells increased the number of mammospheres and the expression of stem cell markers. Among miR-221's targets, we identified DNMT3b. Furthermore, in BCSCs we found that DNMT3b repressed the expression of various stemness genes, such as Nanog and Oct 3/4, acting on the methylation of their promoters, partially reverting the effect of miR-221 on stemness. We hypothesize that miR-221 contributes to breast cancer tumorigenicity by regulating stemness, at least in part through the control of DNMT3b expression.
Project description:The regulation of stem cell fate is poorly understood. Genetic studies in <i>Caenorhabditis elegans</i> lead to the hypothesis that a conserved cytoplasmic double-negative feedback loop consisting of the RNA-binding protein Trim71 and the let-7 microRNA controls the pluripotency and differentiation of stem cells. Although let-7-microRNA-mediated inhibition of Trim71 promotes differentiation, whether and how Trim71 regulates pluripotency and inhibits the let-7 microRNA are still unknown. Here, we show that Trim71 represses <i>Ago2</i> mRNA translation in mouse embryonic stem cells. Blocking this repression leads to a specific post-transcriptional increase of mature let-7 microRNAs, resulting in let-7-dependent stemness defects and accelerated differentiation in the stem cells. These results not only support the Trim71-let-7-microRNA bi-stable switch model in controlling stem cell fate, but also reveal that repressing the conserved pro-differentiation let-7 microRNAs at the mature microRNA level by Ago2 availability is critical to maintaining pluripotency.
Project description:MicroRNAs are a class of small noncoding RNAs that regulate gene expression post-transcriptionally either by inhibiting protein translation or by causing the degradation of target mRNAs. Current evidence indicates that miR-33b is involved in the regulation of lipid metabolism, cholesterol homeostasis, glucose metabolism and several human diseases; however, whether miR-33b contributes to the pathogenesis of human cancers and participates in the regulation of self-renewal of human cancer stem cells remains unknown. Here, we report the identification of miR-33b as a negative regulator of cell stemness and metastasis in breast cancer. Compared with paired normal breast tissues, miR-33b expression is downregulated in breast tumor samples and is inversely correlated with lymph node metastatic status. Ectopic overexpression of miR-33b in highly metastatic breast cancer cells suppresses cell self-renewal, migration and invasion in vitro and inhibits lung metastasis in vivo. Conversely, miR-33b knockdown promotes the self-renewal, migration and invasion capabilities of noncancerous mammary epithelial cells. The mechanism through which miR-33b inhibits the stemness, migration and invasion of breast cancer cells is by targeting HMGA2, SALL4 and Twist1. These data indicate that miR-33b acts as an onco-suppressive microRNA in breast cancer progression by inhibiting the stemness and metastasis of breast cancer cells.
Project description:miR-372/373, a cluster of stem cell-specific microRNAs transactivated by the Wnt pathway, has been reported to be dysregulated in various cancers, particularly colorectal cancer (CRC); however, the unique role of these microRNAs in cancer remains to be discovered. In the present study, we characterized the upregulation in expression of miR-372/373 in CRC tissues from The Cancer Genome Atlas data, and then showed that overexpression of miR-372/373 enhanced the stemness of CRC cells by enriching the CD26/CD24-positive cell population and promoting self-renewal, chemotherapy resistance and the invasive potential of CRC cells. To clarify the mechanism underlying microRNA-induced stemness, we profiled 45 cell signaling pathways in CRC cells overexpressing miR-372/373 and found that stemness-related pathways, such as Nanog and Hedgehog, were upregulated. Instead, differentiation-related pathways, such as NF?B, MAPK/Erk and VDR, were markedly repressed by miR-372/373. Numerous new targets of miR-372/373 were identified, including SPOP, VDR and SETD7, all of which are factors important for cell differentiation. Furthermore, in contrast to the increase in miR-372/373 expression in CRC tissues, the expression levels of SPOP and VDR mRNA were significantly downregulated in these tissues, indicative of the poor differentiation status of CRC. Taken together, our findings suggest that miR-372/373 enhance CRC cell stemness by repressing the expression of differentiation genes. These results provide new insights for understanding the function and mechanisms of stem cell-specific microRNAs in the development of metastasis and drug resistance in CRC.