Dicer Deficiency Reveals MicroRNAs Predicted to Control Gene Expression in the Developing Adrenal Cortex

1Program in Cellular & Molecular Biology
Molecular Endocrinology (Impact Factor: 4.2). 03/2013; 27(5). DOI: 10.1210/me.2012-1331
Source: PubMed

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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