Fibrosis is defined by the overgrowth, hardening, and/or scarring of various tissues and is attributed to excess deposition of extracellular matrix components including collagen. Fibrosis is the end result of chronic inflammatory reactions induced by a variety of stimuli including persistent infections, autoimmune reactions, allergic responses, chemical insults, radiation, and tissue injury. Although current treatments for fibrotic diseases such as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, liver cirrhosis, systemic sclerosis, progressive kidney disease, and cardiovascular fibrosis typically target the inflammatory response, there is accumulating evidence that the mechanisms driving fibrogenesis are distinct from those regulating inflammation. In fact, some studies have suggested that ongoing inflammation is needed to reverse established and progressive fibrosis. The key cellular mediator of fibrosis is the myofibroblast, which when activated serves as the primary collagen-producing cell. Myofibroblasts are generated from a variety of sources including resident mesenchymal cells, epithelial and endothelial cells in processes termed epithelial/endothelial-mesenchymal (EMT/EndMT) transition, as well as from circulating fibroblast-like cells called fibrocytes that are derived from bone-marrow stem cells. Myofibroblasts are activated by a variety of mechanisms, including paracrine signals derived from lymphocytes and macrophages, autocrine factors secreted by myofibroblasts, and pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPS) produced by pathogenic organisms that interact with pattern recognition receptors (i.e. TLRs) on fibroblasts. Cytokines (IL-13, IL-21, TGF-β1), chemokines (MCP-1, MIP-1β), angiogenic factors (VEGF), growth factors (PDGF), peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs), acute phase proteins (SAP), caspases, and components of the renin–angiotensin–aldosterone system (ANG II) have been identified as important regulators of fibrosis and are being investigated as potential targets of antifibrotic drugs. This review explores our current understanding of the cellular and molecular mechanisms of fibrogenesis.
fibrosis; myofibroblast; collagen; wound healing; liver; lung
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a family of small, noncoding RNAs that regulate gene expression in diverse biological and pathological processes, including cell proliferation, differentiation, apoptosis, and carcinogenesis. As a result, miRNAs emerged as major area of biomedical research with relevance to kidney fibrosis. Fibrosis is characterized by the excess deposition of extracellular matrix (ECM) components, which is the end result of an imbalance of metabolism of the ECM molecule. Recent evidence suggests that miRNAs participate in the fibrotic process in a number of organs including the heart, kidney, liver, and lung. Epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT) and endothelial mesenchymal transition (EndMT) programs play vital roles in the development of fibrosis in the kidney. A growing number of the extracellular and intracellular molecules that control EMT and EndMT have been identified and could be exploited in developing therapeutics for fibrosis. This review highlights recent advances on the role of miRNAs in the kidney diseases; diabetic nephropathy especially focused on EMT and EndMT program responsible for the development of kidney fibrosis. These miRNAs can be utilized as a potential novel drug target for the studying of underlying mechanism and treatment of kidney fibrosis.
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is a disease characterized by alveolar epithelial cell injury, inflammatory cell infiltration and deposition of extracellular matrix in lung tissue. As mouse models of bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis display many of the same phenotypes observed in patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, they have been used to study various aspects of the disease, including altered expression of microRNAs.
In this work, microRNA expression profiling of the lungs from treated C57BL/6J mice, relative to that of untreated controls, was undertaken to determine which alterations in microRNAs could in part regulate the fibrosis phenotype induced by bleomycin delivered through mini-osmotic pumps. We identified 11 microRNAs, including miR-21 and miR-34a, to be significantly differentially expressed (P < 0.01) in lungs of bleomycin treated mice and confirmed these data with real time PCR measurements. In situ hybridization of both miR-21 and miR-34a indicated that they were expressed in alveolar macrophages. Using a previously reported gene expression profile, we identified 195 genes to be both predicted targets of the 11 microRNAs and of altered expression in bleomycin-induced lung disease of C57BL/6J mice. Pathway analysis with these 195 genes indicated that altered microRNA expression may be associated with hepatocyte growth factor signaling, cholecystokinin/gastrin-mediated signaling, and insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) signaling, among others, in fibrotic lung disease. The relevance of the IGF-1 pathway in this model was then demonstrated by showing lung tissue of bleomycin treated C57BL/6J mice had increased expression of Igf1 and that increased numbers of Igf-1 positive cells, predominantly in macrophages, were detected in the lungs.
We conclude that altered microRNA expression in macrophages is a feature which putatively influences the insulin-like growth factor signaling component of bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis.
Pulmonary fibrosis; microRNA; Bleomycin; Insulin-like growth factor; Pathway analysis; Mouse model
MicroRNA (miRNA) are small non-coding RNA molecules that posttranscriptionally effect mRNA stability and translation by targeting the 3′-untranslated region (3′-UTR) of various transcripts. Thus, dysregulation of miRNA affects a wide range of cellular processes such as cell proliferation and differentiation involved in organ remodeling processes. Divergent miRNA patterns were observed during chronic liver diseases of various etiologies. Chronic liver diseases result in uncontrolled scar formation ending up in liver fibrosis or even cirrhosis. Since it has been shown that miR-29 dysregulation is involved in synthesis of extracellular matrix proteins, miR-29 is of special interest. The importance of miR-29 in hepatic collagen homeostasis is underlined by in vivo data showing that experimental severe fibrosis is associated with a prominent miR-29 decrease. The loss of miR-29 is due to the response of hepatic stellate cells to exposure to the profibrogenic mediators TGF-β and PDGF-BB. Several putative binding sites for the Smad proteins and the Ap1 complex are located in the miR-29 promoter, which are suggested to mediate miR-29 decrease in fibrosis. Other miRNA are highly increased after profibrogenic stimulation, such as miR-21. miR-21 is transcriptionally upregulated in response to Smad-3 rather than Smad-2 activation after TGF-β stimulation. In addition, TGF-β promotes miR-21 expression by formation of a microprocessor complex containing Smad proteins. Elevated miR-21 may then act as a profibrogenic miRNA by its repression of the TGF-β inhibitory Smad-7 protein.
microRNA; fibrosis; extracellular matrix; TGF-β; PDGF; Smad proteins; Ap1
Uncontrolled extracellular matrix production by fibroblasts in response to tissue injury contributes to fibrotic diseases, such as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a progressive and ultimately fatal process that currently has no cure. Although dysregulation of miRNAs is known to be involved in a variety of pathophysiologic processes, the role of miRNAs in fibrotic lung diseases is unclear. In this study, we found up-regulation of miR-21 in the lungs of mice with bleomycin-induced fibrosis and also in the lungs of patients with IPF. Increased miR-21 expression was primarily localized to myofibroblasts. Administration of miR-21 antisense probes diminished the severity of experimental lung fibrosis in mice, even when treatment was started 5–7 d after initiation of pulmonary injury. TGF-β1, a central pathological mediator of fibrotic diseases, enhanced miR-21 expression in primary pulmonary fibroblasts. Increasing miR-21 levels promoted, whereas knocking down miR-21 attenuated, the pro-fibrogenic activity of TGF-β1 in fibroblasts. A potential mechanism for the role of miR-21 in fibrosis is through regulating the expression of an inhibitory Smad, Smad7. These experiments demonstrate an important role for miR-21 in fibrotic lung diseases and also suggest a novel approach using miRNA therapeutics in treating clinically refractory fibrotic diseases, such as IPF.
microRNAs (miRNAs) are short non-coding RNAs regulating gene expression at the post-transcriptional level by blocking translation or promoting cleavage of their target mRNAs. Increasing evidence shows that miRNAs play central roles in gene transcription, signal transduction and pathogenesis of human diseases. Diabetic nephropathy (DN) is a severe microvascular complication that can lead to end-stage renal disease. Increased expansion (hypertrophy) and accumulation of extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins such as collagen (fibrosis) in the glomerular mesangium along with glomerular podocyte dysfunction are major features of DN. Profiling of miRNAs and study of their functions in renal glomeruli can provide critical new information to advance our knowledge of DN as well as other kidney diseases and thereby uncover much needed new therapeutic targets. In this review, we summarize the biogenesis of miRNAs and their functions in the glomerulus, with particular emphasis on glomerular mesangial cells and podocytes related to the pathogenesis of DN.
microRNAs; Glomerulus; TGF-β; Diabetic Nephropathy; Fibrosis; Hypertrophy
MicroRNAs (miRNA) are small regulatory RNAs that control gene expression by translational suppression and destabilization of target mRNAs. There is increasing evidence that miRNAs regulate genes associated with fibrosis in organs, such as the heart, kidney, liver, and the lung. In a large-scale screening for miRNAs potentially involved in bleomycin-induced fibrosis, we found expression of miR-29 family members significantly reduced in fibrotic lungs. Analysis of normal lungs showed the presence of miR-29 in subsets of interstitial cells of the alveolar wall, pleura, and at the entrance of the alveolar duct, known sites of pulmonary fibrosis. miR-29 levels inversely correlated with the expression levels of profibrotic target genes and the severity of the fibrosis. To study the impact of miR-29 down-regulation in the lung interstitium, we characterized gene expression profiles of human fetal lung fibroblast IMR-90 cells in which endogenous miR-29 was knocked down. This confirmed the derepression of reported miR-29 targets, including several collagens, but also revealed up-regulation of a large number of previously unrecognized extracellular matrix–associated and remodeling genes. Moreover, we found that miR-29 is suppressed by transforming growth factor (TGF)–β1 in these cells, and that many fibrosis-associated genes up-regulated by TGF-β1 are derepressed by miR-29 knockdown. Interestingly, a comparison of TGF-β1 and miR-29 targets revealed that miR-29 controls an additional subset of fibrosis-related genes, including laminins and integrins, independent of TGF-β1. Together, these strongly suggest a role of miR-29 in the pathogenesis of pulmonary fibrosis. miR-29 may be a potential new therapeutic target for this disease.
miR-29; pulmonary fibrosis; basement membrane; profibrotic genes; TGF-β1
Hepatic stellate cell (HSC) activation is a pivotal event in initiation and progression of hepatic fibrosis and a major contributor to collagen deposition driven by transforming growth factor beta (TGFβ). microRNAs (miRs), small non-coding RNAs modulating mRNA and protein expression, have emerged as key regulatory molecules in chronic liver disease. We investigated differentially expressed miRs in quiescent and activated HSCs to identify novel regulators of profibrotic TGFβ signaling. miR microarray analysis was performed on quiescent and activated rat HSCs. Members of the miR-17-92 cluster (19a, 19b, 92a) were significantly down-regulated in activated HSCs. Since miR 19b showed the highest fold-change of the cluster members, activated HSCs were transfected with miR 19b mimic or negative control and TGFβ signaling and HSC activation assessed. miR 19b expression was determined in fibrotic rat and human liver specimens. miR 19b mimic negatively regulated TGFβ signaling components demonstrated by decreased TGFβ receptor II (TGFβRII) and SMAD3 expression. Computational prediction of miR 19b binding to the 3’UTR of TGFβRII was validated by luciferase reporter assay. Inhibition of TGFβ signaling by miR 19b was confirmed by decreased expression of type I collagen and by blocking TGFβ-induced expression of α1(I) and α2(I) procollagen mRNAs. miR 19b blunted the activated HSC phenotype by morphological assessment and decreased αSMA expression. Additionally, miR 19b expression was markedly diminished in fibrotic rat liver compared to normal liver; similarly, miR 19b expression was markedly down-regulated in fibrotic compared to normal human livers.
miR 19b is a novel regulator of TGFβ signaling in HSCs suggesting a potential therapeutic approach for hepatic fibrosis.
Transforming growth factor β; fibrosis; miR 19b; biomarker; hepatic stellate cell
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs of 18–25 nucleotides that are generally believed to either block the translation or induce the degradation of target mRNA. miRNAs have been shown to play fundamental roles in diverse biological and pathological processes including cell proliferation, differentiation, apoptosis and carcinogenesis. Fibrosis results from an imbalance in the turnover of extracellular matrix molecules and is a highly debilitating process that can eventually lead to organ dysfunction. A growing body of evidence suggests that miRNAs participate in the fibrotic process in a number of organs including the heart, kidney, liver and lung. In this review, we summarize our current understanding of the role of miRNAs in the development of tissue fibrosis and their potential as novel drug targets.
miRNA; fibrosis; extracellular matrix molecules; collagen; fibroblasts
Macrophages are found in close proximity with collagen-producing myofibroblasts and indisputably play a key role in fibrosis. They produce profibrotic mediators that directly activate fibroblasts, including transforming growth factor-β1 and platelet-derived growth factor, and control extracellular matrix turnover by regulating the balance of various matrix metalloproteinases and tissue inhibitors of matrix metalloproteinases. Macrophages also regulate fibrogenesis by secreting chemokines that recruit fibroblasts and other inflammatory cells. With their potential to act in both a pro- and antifibrotic capacity, as well as their ability to regulate the activation of resident and recruited myofibroblasts, macrophages and the factors they express are integrated into all stages of the fibrotic process. These various, and sometimes opposing, functions may be performed by distinct macrophage subpopulations, the identification of which is a growing focus of fibrosis research. Although collagen-secreting myofibroblasts once were thought of as the master “producers” of fibrosis, this review will illustrate how macrophages function as the master “regulators” of fibrosis.
Fibrosis; inflammation; collagen; wound healing; stellate cell; myofibroblasts; interleukin-13; transforming growth factor beta; tumor necrosis factor; interleukin-1; interleukin-17; arginase; Relm-alpha; chitinase
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a poorly understood progressive disease characterized by the recurrent damage of alveolar epithelial cells as well as inappropriate expansion and activation of fibroblasts resulting in pronounced extracellular matrix (ECM) deposition. Although recent studies have indicated the involvement of secreted protein acidic and rich in cysteine (SPARC), a matricellular protein regulating ECM deposition, in the pathogenesis of fibrosis, factors regulating SPARC expression or roles of SPARC in fibrosis have not been fully elucidated.
Among the profibrotic factors examined in cultured fibroblasts, we showed that SPARC expression was upregulated mainly by transforming growth factor (TGF)-β. We also showed that expression of SPARC in the lung was upregulated in the murine bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis model, which was inhibited by TGF-β receptor I inhibitor. Knockdown of SPARC in fibroblasts using siRNA or treatment with the antioxidant N-acetylcysteine attenuated epithelial cell injury induced by TGF-β-activated fibroblasts in a coculture system. We also demonstrated that SPARC was required for hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) production in fibroblasts treated with TGF-β. Furthermore, TGF-β activated integrin-linked kinase (ILK), which was inhibited by SPARC siRNA. Knockdown of ILK attenuated extracellular H2O2 generation in TGF-β-stimulated fibroblasts. Our results indicated that SPARC is upregulated by TGF-β and is required for TGF-β-induced H2O2 production via activation of ILK, and this H2O2 production from fibroblasts is capable of causing epithelial cell injury.
The results presented in this study suggest that SPARC plays a role in epithelial damage in the IPF lung via enhanced H2O2 production from fibroblasts activated by TGF-β. Therefore, SPARC inhibition may prevent epithelial injury in IPF lung and represent a potential therapeutic approach for IPF.
SPARC; TGF-β; Hydrogen peroxide; Fibroblast; Pulmonary fibrosis
Fibrosis is the end result of pathologic wound healing and is characterized by inflammation, excessive proliferation of fibroblasts, and abnormal deposition of extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins. Despite the advanced treatments for the fibrotic diseases, as well as the researches on the fibrosis, pathologic fibrotic diseases remain to be hard cured and the molecular mechanism of fibrosis is still unclear. In our previous studies we found ITGB4BP was involved in the myofibroblast differentiation. However there were no studies about the roles of ITGB4BP in fibrosis. On this background this review explores the basic features and the biological function of ITGB4BP which might imply the underlying cellular and molecular mechanism in the regulation of fibrotic diseases.
MicroRNAs are small endogenously expressed non-coding RNA molecules that regulate target gene expression through translation repression or messenger RNA degradation. MicroRNA regulation is performed through pairing of the microRNA to sites in the messenger RNA of protein coding genes. Since experimental identification of miRNA target genes poses difficulties, computational microRNA target prediction is one of the key means in deciphering the role of microRNAs in development and disease.
DIANA-microT 3.0 is an algorithm for microRNA target prediction which is based on several parameters calculated individually for each microRNA and combines conserved and non-conserved microRNA recognition elements into a final prediction score, which correlates with protein production fold change. Specifically, for each predicted interaction the program reports a signal to noise ratio and a precision score which can be used as an indication of the false positive rate of the prediction.
Recently, several computational target prediction programs were benchmarked based on a set of microRNA target genes identified by the pSILAC method. In this assessment DIANA-microT 3.0 was found to achieve the highest precision among the most widely used microRNA target prediction programs reaching approximately 66%. The DIANA-microT 3.0 prediction results are available online in a user friendly web server at
Progressive fibrosis in the diabetic kidney is driven and sustained by a diverse range of profibrotic factors. This study examines the critical role of microRNAs (miRNAs) in the regulation of the key fibrotic mediators, TGF-β1 and TGF-β2.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
Rat proximal-tubular epithelial cells (NRK52E) were treated with TGF-β1 and TGF-β2 for 3 days, and expression of markers of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and fibrogenesis were assessed by RT-PCR and Western blotting. The expression of miR-141 and miR-200a was also assessed, as was their role as translational repressors of TGF-β signaling. Finally, these pathways were explored in two different mouse models, representing early and advanced diabetic nephropathy.
Both TGF-β1 and TGF-β2 induced EMT and fibrogenesis in NRK52E cells. TGF-β1 and TGF-β2 also downregulated expression of miR-200a. The importance of these changes was demonstrated by the finding that ectopic expression miR-200a downregulated smad-3 activity and the expression of matrix proteins and prevented TGF-β–dependent EMT. miR-200a also downregulated the expression of TGF-β2, via direct interaction with the 3′ untranslated region of TGF-β2. The renal expression of miR-141 and miR-200a was also reduced in mouse models representing early and advanced kidney disease.
miR-200a and miR-141 significantly impact on the development and progression of TGF-β–dependent EMT and fibrosis in vitro and in vivo. These miRNAs appear to be intricately involved in fibrogenesis, both as downstream mediators of TGF-β signaling and as components of feedback regulation, and as such represent important new targets for the prevention of progressive kidney disease in the context of diabetes.
MicroRNAs are small noncoding RNAs that play an important role in the regulation of various biological processes through their interaction with cellular messenger RNAs. They are frequently dysregulated in cancer and have shown great potential as tissue-based markers for cancer classification and prognostication. microRNAs are also present in extracellular human body fluids such as serum, plasma, saliva, and urine. Most of circulating microRNAs are present in human plasma and serum cofractionate with the Argonaute2 (Ago2) protein. However, circulating microRNAs have been also found in membrane-bound vesicles such as exosomes. Since microRNAs circulate in the bloodstream in a highly stable, extracellular form, they may be used as blood-based biomarkers for cancer and other diseases. A knowledge base of extracellular circulating miRNAs is a fundamental tool for biomedical research. In this work, we present miRandola, a comprehensive manually curated classification of extracellular circulating miRNAs. miRandola is connected to miRò, the miRNA knowledge base, allowing users to infer the potential biological functions of circulating miRNAs and their connections with phenotypes. The miRandola database contains 2132 entries, with 581 unique mature miRNAs and 21 types of samples. miRNAs are classified into four categories, based on their extracellular form: miRNA-Ago2 (173 entries), miRNA-exosome (856 entries), miRNA-HDL (20 entries) and miRNA-circulating (1083 entries). miRandola is available online at: http://atlas.dmi.unict.it/mirandola/index.html.
Organ fibrosis is a pathological condition associated with chronic inflammatory diseases. In fibrosis, excessive deposition of extracellular matrix (ECM) severely impairs tissue architecture and function, eventually resulting in organ failure. This process is mediated primarily by the induction of myofibroblasts, which produce large amounts of collagen I, the main component of the ECM. Accordingly, the origin, developmental pathways, and mechanisms of myofibroblast regulation are attracting increasing attention as potential therapeutic targets. The fibrotic cascade, from initial epithelial damage to eventual myofibroblast induction, is mediated by complex biological processes such as macrophage infiltration, a shift from Th1 to Th2 phenotype, and by inflammatory mediators such as transforming growth factor-β. Here, we review the current understanding of the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying organ fibrosis.
fibrosis; myofibroblast; fibroblast; chemokine; TGFb; mesenchymal stem cell; collagen I; pericyte
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of small noncoding RNA which exert post-transcriptional gene regulation activity by targeting messenger RNAs. miRNAs have been found to be involved in various fundamental biological processes and deregulation of miRNAs is known to result in pathological conditions. In this review, we provide an overview of recent discoveries on the role played by this class of molecules in lung development and in pulmonary diseases, such as asthma, cystic fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and pulmonary artery hypertension. Considering the relevant role of these miRNAs under physiological and pathological conditions, they represent new clinical targets as well as diagnostic and prognostic tools. Therefore, this review pays special attention to recent advances and possible future directions for the use of miRNAs for clinical applications.
asthma; COPD; cystic fibrosis; microRNA; pulmonary arterial hypertension; pulmonary development; pulmonary disease
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of noncoding RNA acting at a post-transcriptional level to control the expression of large sets of target mRNAs. While there is evidence that miRNAs deregulation plays a causative role in various complex disorders, their role in fibrotic kidney diseases is largely unexplored. Here, we found a strong up-regulation of miR-21 in the kidneys of mice with unilateral ureteral obstruction and also in the kidneys of patients with severe kidney fibrosis. In addition, mouse primary fibroblasts derived from fibrotic kidneys exhibited higher miR-21 expression level compared to those derived from normal kidneys. Expression of miR-21 in normal primary kidney fibroblasts was induced upon TGFβ exposure, a key growth factor involved in fibrogenesis. Finally, ectopic expression of miR-21 in primary kidney fibroblasts was sufficient to promote myofibroblast differentiation. As circulating miRNAs have been suggested as promising non-invasive biomarkers, we further assess whether circulating miR-21 levels are associated with renal fibrosis using sera from 42 renal transplant recipients, categorized according to their renal fibrosis severity, evaluated on allograft biopsies (Interstitial Fibrosis/Tubular Atrophy (IF/TA). Circulating miR-21 levels are significantly increased in patients with severe IF/TA grade (IF/TA grade 3: 3.0±1.0 vs lower grade of fibrosis: 1.5±1.2; p = 0.001). By contrast, circulating miR-21 levels were not correlated with other renal histological lesions. In a multivariate linear regression model including IF/TA grade and estimated GFR, independent associations were found between circulating miR-21 levels and IF/TA score (ß = 0.307, p = 0.03), and between miR-21 levels and aMDRD (ß = −0.398, p = 0.006). Altogether, these data suggest miR-21 has a key pathogenic role in kidney fibrosis and may represent a novel, predictive and reliable blood marker of kidney fibrosis.
Myofibroblast contraction is fundamental in the excessive tissue remodeling that is characteristic of fibrotic tissue contractures. Tissue remodeling during development of fibrosis leads to gradually increasing stiffness of the extracellular matrix. We propose that this increased stiffness positively feeds back on the contractile activities of myofibroblasts. We have previously shown that cycles of contraction directly correlate with periodic intracellular calcium oscillations in cultured myofibroblasts. We analyze cytosolic calcium dynamics using fluorescent calcium indicators to evaluate the possible impact of mechanical stress on myofibroblast contractile activity. To modulate extracellular mechanics, we seeded primary rat subcutaneous myofibroblasts on silicone substrates and into collagen gels of different elastic modulus. We modulated cell stress by cell growth on differently adhesive culture substrates, by restricting cell spreading area on micro-printed adhesive islands, and depolymerizing actin with Cytochalasin D. In general, calcium oscillation frequencies in myofibroblasts increased with increasing mechanical challenge. These results provide new insight on how changing mechanical conditions for myofibroblasts are encoded in calcium oscillations and possibly explain how reparative cells adapt their contractile behavior to the stresses occurring in normal and pathological tissue repair.
We present an overview of selected computational methods for
microRNA prediction. It is especially aimed at viral miRNA
detection. As the number of microRNAs increases and the range of
genomes encoding miRNAs expands, it seems that these small
regulators have a more important role than has been previously
thought. Most microRNAs have been detected by cloning and Northern
blotting, but experimental methods are biased towards abundant
microRNAs as well as being time-consuming. Computational detection
methods must therefore be refined to serve as a faster, better,
and more affordable method for microRNA detection. We also present
data from a small study investigating the problems of
computational miRNA prediction. Our findings suggest that the
prediction of microRNA precursor candidates is fairly easy, while
excluding false positives as well as exact prediction of the
mature microRNA is hard. Finally, we discuss possible improvements
to computational microRNA detection.
Micro ribonucleic acids (miRNAs) are short noncoding RNAs that inhibit gene expression through the post-transcriptional repression of their target mRNAs. Increasing evidence shows that miRNAs have emerged as key players in diverse biologic processes. Aberrant miRNA expression is also closely related to various human diseases, including kidney diseases. From clinical and experimental animal studies, emerging evidence demonstrates a critical role for miRNAs in renal pathophysiology. Renal fibrosis is the hallmark of various chronic kidney diseases and transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β) is recognized as a vital mediator of renal fibrosis because it can induce production of extracellular matrix proteins resulting in dysfunction of the kidneys. The relationship between TGF-β signaling and miRNAs expression during renal diseases has been recently established. TGF-β positively or negatively regulates expression of several miRNAs, such as miR-21, miR-192, miR-200, and miR-29. Both miR-192 and miR-21 are positively regulated by TGF-β1/Smad3 signaling and play a pathological role in kidney diseases. Conversely, members of both miR-29 and miR-200 families are negatively regulated by TGF-β/Smad3 and play a protective role in renal fibrosis by inhibiting the deposition of extracellular matrix and preventing epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, respectively. Clinically, levels of miRNAs in circulation and urine may be potential biomarkers for detecting early stages of renal diseases and targeting miRNAs also provides promising therapeutic effects in rodent models of chronic kidney disease. However, mechanisms and roles of miRNAs under disease conditions remain to be explored. Thus, understanding the function of miRNAs in the pathogenesis of kidney diseases may offer an innovative approach for both early diagnosis and treatment of renal diseases.
microRNAs; kidney diseases; renal fibrosis; TGF-β signaling
The development of interstitial fibrosis and tubular atrophy is a common complication after kidney transplantation and is associated with reduced long-term outcome. The hallmark of tubulointerstitial fibrosis is an increase in extracellular matrix resulting from exaggerated activation of fibroblasts/myofibroblasts, and tubular atrophy is characterized by a decrease in tubular diameter and loss of function. Atrophic epithelial cells may undergo epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) with potential differentiation into interstitial fibroblasts. One potential driver of EMT in developing interstitial fibrosis and tubular atrophy is chronic hypoxia.
The expression of 46 EMT-related genes was analyzed in an in vitro hypoxia model in renal proximal tubular epithelial cells (RPTEC). Furthermore, the expression of 342 microRNAs (miR) was evaluated in hypoxic culture conditions.
Hypoxic RPTEC expressed markers of a more mesenchymal phenotype and showed an increased expression of matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP2). MMP2 expression in RPTEC correlated inversely with a decreased expression of miR-124, which was found to have a putative binding site for the MMP2 transcript. Overexpression of miR-124 inhibited MMP2 protein translation. Hypoxia was associated with increased migration/proliferation of RPTEC which was reversed by miR-124.
These results indicate that hypoxia promotes a mesenchymal and migratory phenotype in renal epithelial cells, which is associated with increased MMP2 expression. Hypoxia-dependent MMP2 expression is regulated via a reduced transcription of miR-124. Overexpression of miR-124 antagonizes hypoxia-induced cell migration. Further research is needed to elucidate the functional role of miR-124 and MMP2 in the development of fibrosis in renal transplant degeneration.
Hypoxia; Fibrosis; Matrix metalloproteinase-2; miR-124
Hyaluronan synthase 2 and CD44 are required for severe lung fibrosis in response to bleomycin.
Tissue fibrosis is a major cause of morbidity, and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a terminal illness characterized by unremitting matrix deposition in the lung. The mechanisms that control progressive fibrosis are unknown. Myofibroblasts accumulate at sites of tissue remodeling and produce extracellular matrix components such as collagen and hyaluronan (HA) that ultimately compromise organ function. We found that targeted overexpression of HAS2 (HA synthase 2) by myofibroblasts produced an aggressive phenotype leading to severe lung fibrosis and death after bleomycin-induced injury. Fibroblasts isolated from transgenic mice overexpressing HAS2 showed a greater capacity to invade matrix. Conditional deletion of HAS2 in mesenchymal cells abrogated the invasive fibroblast phenotype, impeded myofibroblast accumulation, and inhibited the development of lung fibrosis. Both the invasive phenotype and the progressive fibrosis were inhibited in the absence of CD44. Treatment with a blocking antibody to CD44 reduced lung fibrosis in mice in vivo. Finally, fibroblasts isolated from patients with IPF exhibited an invasive phenotype that was also dependent on HAS2 and CD44. Understanding the mechanisms leading to an invasive fibroblast phenotype could lead to novel approaches to the treatment of disorders characterized by severe tissue fibrosis.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) have emerged as a class of regulatory RNAs with immense significance in numerous biological processes. When aberrantly expressed miRNAs have been shown to play a role in the pathogenesis of several disease states. Extensive research has explored miRNA involvement in the development and fate of immune cells and in both the innate and adaptive immune responses whereby strong evidence links miRNA expression to signalling pathways and receptors with critical roles in the inflammatory response such as NF-κB and the toll-like receptors, respectively. Recent studies have revealed that unique miRNA expression profiles exist in inflammatory lung diseases such as cystic fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and lung cancer. Evaluation of the global expression of miRNAs provides a unique opportunity to identify important target gene sets regulating susceptibility and response to infection and treatment, and control of inflammation in chronic airway disorders. Over 800 human miRNAs have been discovered to date, however the biological function of the majority remains to be uncovered. Understanding the role that miRNAs play in the modulation of gene expression leading to sustained chronic pulmonary inflammation is important for the development of new therapies which focus on prevention of disease progression rather than symptom relief. Here we discuss the current understanding of miRNA involvement in innate immunity, specifically in LPS/TLR4 signalling and in the progression of the chronic inflammatory lung diseases cystic fibrosis, COPD and asthma. miRNA in lung cancer and IPF are also reviewed.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) regulate post-transcriptional gene expression during development and disease. We have determined the miRNA expression levels of early- and end-stage hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) in a severe, transgenic mouse model of the disease. Five miRNAs were differentially expressed at an early stage of HCM development. Time-course analysis revealed that decreased expression of miR-1 and miR-133a commences at a pre-disease stage, and precedes upregulation of target genes causal of cardiac hypertrophy and extracellular matrix remodelling, suggesting a role for miR-1 and miR-133a in early disease development. At end-stage HCM, 16 miRNA are dysregulated to form an expression profile resembling that of other forms of cardiac hypertrophy, suggesting common responses. Analysis of the mRNA transcriptome revealed that miRNAs potentially target 15.7% upregulated and 4.8% downregulated mRNAs at end-stage HCM, and regulate mRNAs associated with cardiac hypertrophy and electrophysiology, calcium signalling, fibrosis, and the TGF-β signalling pathway. Collectively, these results define the miRNA expression signatures during development and progression of severe HCM and highlight critical miRNA regulated gene networks that are involved in disease pathogenesis.