Network-like impact of MicroRNAs on neuronal lineage differentiation of unrestricted somatic stem cells from human cord blood.
ABSTRACT Unrestricted somatic stem cells (USSCs) represent an intrinsically multipotent CD45-negative fetal population from human cord blood. They show differentiation into neuronal cells of a dopaminergic phenotype, which express neuronal markers such as synaptophysin, neuronal-specific nuclear protein, and neurofilament and release the neurotransmitter dopamine accompanied by expression of dopaminergic key factors tyrosine hydroxylase and Nurr1 (NR4A2). MicroRNA expression analysis highlighted their importance in neural development but their specific functions remain poorly understood. Here, downregulation of a set of 18 microRNAs during neuronal lineage differentiation of unrestricted somatic stem cells, including members of the miR-17-92 family and additional microRNAs such as miR-130a, -138, -218, and -335 as well as their target genes, is described. In silico target gene predictions for this microRNA group uncovered a large set of proteins involved in neuronal differentiation and having a strong impact on differentiation-related pathways such as axon guidance and TGFβ, WNT, and MAPK signaling. Experimental target validations confirmed approximately 35% of predictions tested and revealed a group of proteins with specific impact on neuronal differentiation and function including neurobeachin, neurogenic differentiation 1, cysteine-rich motor neuron protein 1, neuropentraxin 1, and others. These proteins are combined targets for several subgroups from the set of 18 downregulated microRNAs. This finding was further supported by the observed upregulation of a significant amount of predicted and validated target genes based on Illumina Beadstudio microarray data. Confirming the functional relationship of a limited panel of microRNAs and predicted target proteins reveals a clear network-like impact of the group of 18 downregulated microRNAs on proteins involved in neuronal development and function.