Dicer Deficiency Reveals MicroRNAs Predicted to Control Gene Expression in the Developing Adrenal Cortex
ABSTRACT MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small, endogenous, non-protein coding RNAs that are an important means of post-transcriptional gene regulation. Deletion of Dicer, a key miRNA processing enzyme, is embryonic lethal in mice, and tissue-specific Dicer deletion results in developmental defects. Using a conditional knockout model, we generated mice lacking Dicer in the adrenal cortex. These Dicer knockout (KO) mice exhibited perinatal mortality and failure of the adrenal cortex during late gestation between embryonic day 16.5 (E16.5) and E18.5. Further study of Dicer KO adrenals demonstrated a significant loss of Sf1 expressing cortical cells that was histologically evident as early as E16.5 coincident with an increase in p21 and cleaved-caspase 3 staining in the cortex. However, peripheral cortical proliferation persisted in KO adrenals as assessed by anti-PCNA staining. To further characterize the embryonic adrenals from Dicer KO mice, we performed microarray analyses for both gene expression and miRNA on purified RNA isolated from control and KO adrenals of E15.5 and E16.5 embryos. Consistent with the absence of Dicer and the associated loss of miRNA-mediated mRNA degradation, we observed an up-regulation of a small subset of adrenal transcripts in Dicer KO mice, most notably the transcripts coded by the genes Nr6a1 and Acvr1c. Indeed, several miRNAs, including let-7, miR-34c, and miR-21 that are predicted to target these genes for degradation, were also markedly down-regulated in Dicer KO adrenals. Together these data suggest a role for miRNA mediated regulation of a subset of genes that are essential for normal adrenal growth and homeostasis.
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ABSTRACT: Cell fate decisions are integral to zonation and remodeling of the adrenal cortex. Animal models exhibiting ectopic differentiation of gonadal-like cells in the adrenal cortex can shed light on the molecular mechanisms regulating steroidogenic cell fate. In one such model, prepubertal gonadectomy (GDX) of mice triggers the formation of adrenocortical neoplasms that resemble luteinized ovarian stroma. Transcriptomic analysis and genome-wide DNA methylation mapping have identified genetic and epigenetic markers of GDX-induced adrenocortical neoplasia. Members of the GATA transcription factor family have emerged as key regulators of cell fate in this model. Expression of Gata4 is pivotal for the accumulation of gonadal-like cells in the adrenal glands of gonadectomized mice, whereas expression of Gata6 limits the spontaneous and GDX-induced differentiation of gonadal-like cells in the adrenal cortex. Additionally, Gata6 is essential for proper development of the adrenal X-zone, a layer analogous to the fetal zone of the human adrenal cortex. The relevance of these observations to developmental signaling pathways in the adrenal cortex, to other animal models of altered adrenocortical cell fate, and to human diseases is discussed. Copyright © 2014. Published by Elsevier Ireland Ltd.Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology 06/2015; 408:165-177. DOI:10.1016/j.mce.2014.12.003 · 4.24 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small, non-coding RNA molecules that regulate gene expression post-transcriptionally. MiRNAs are implicated in various biological processes associated with obesity, including adipocyte differentiation and lipid metabolism. We used a neuronal-specific inhibition of miRNA maturation in adult mice to study the consequences of miRNA loss on obesity development. Camk2a-CreERT2 ( Cre<sup>+</sup> ) and floxed Dicer ( Dicer<sup>lox/lox</sup> ) mice were crossed to generate tamoxifen-inducible conditional Dicer knockouts (cKO). Vehicle- and/or tamoxifen-injected Cre<sup>+</sup>;Dicer<sup>lox/lox</sup> and Cre<sup>+</sup>;Dicer<sup>+/+</sup> served as controls. Four cohorts were used to a) measure body composition, b) follow food intake and body weight dynamics, c) evaluate basal metabolism and effects of food deprivation, and d) assess the brain transcriptome consequences of miRNA loss. cKO mice developed severe obesity and gained 18 g extra weight over the 5 weeks following tamoxifen injection, mainly due to increased fat mass. This phenotype was highly reproducible and observed in all 38 cKO mice recorded and in none of the controls, excluding possible effects of tamoxifen or the non-induced transgene. Development of obesity was concomitant with hyperphagia, increased food efficiency, and decreased activity. Surprisingly, after reaching maximum body weight, obese cKO mice spontaneously started losing weight as rapidly as it was gained. Weight loss was accompanied by lowered O<sub>2</sub>-consumption and respiratory-exchange ratio. Brain transcriptome analyses in obese mice identified several obesity-related pathways (e.g. leptin, somatostatin, and nemo-like kinase signaling), as well as genes involved in feeding and appetite (e.g. Pmch, Neurotensin ) and in metabolism (e.g. Bmp4 , Bmp7 , Ptger1 , Cox7a1 ). A gene cluster with anti-correlated expression in the cerebral cortex of post-obese compared to obese mice was enriched for synaptic plasticity pathways. While other studies have identified a role for miRNAs in obesity, we here present a unique model that allows for the study of processes involved in reversing obesity. Moreover, our study identified the cortex as a brain area important for body weight homeostasis.PLoS ONE 01/2015; 10(1-1):e0116760. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0116760 · 3.53 Impact Factor
- The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 04/2014; 99(4):1152-6. DOI:10.1210/jc.2014-1062 · 6.31 Impact Factor