Silencing of miR20a is crucial for Ngn1-mediated neuroprotection in injured spinal cord.

Laboratory of Stem Cell Biology, Department of Biotechnology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Seoul National University, Seoul 151-742, Korea.
Human gene therapy (Impact Factor: 3.62). 12/2011; 23(5):508-20. DOI: 10.1089/hum.2011.121
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT MicroRNAs (miRNAs) compose a relatively new discipline in biomedical research, and many physiological processes in disease have been associated with changes in miRNA expression. Several studies report that miRNAs participate in biological processes such as the control of secondary injury in several disease models. Recently, we identified novel miRNAs that were abnormally up-regulated in a traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI). In the current study, we focused on miR20a, which causes continuing motor neuron degeneration when overexpressed in SCI lesions. Blocking miR20a in SCI animals led to neural cell survival and eventual neurogenesis with rescued expression of the key target gene, neurogenin 1 (Ngn1). Infusion of siNgn1 resulted in functional deficit in the hindlimbs caused by aggressive secondary injury and actively enhanced the inflammation involved in secondary injury progression. The events involving miR20a underlie motor neuron and myelin destruction and pathophysiology and ultimately block regeneration in injured spinal cords. Inhibition of miR20a expression effectively induced definitive motor neuron survival and neurogenesis, and SCI animals showed improved functional deficit. In this study, we showed that abnormal expression of miR20a induces secondary injury, which suggests that miR20a could be a potential target for therapeutic intervention following SCI.

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    ABSTRACT: microRNAs (miRNAs) are a novel class of small non-coding RNAs that negatively regulate gene expression at the post-transcriptional level. miRNAs can modulate gene expression and thus play important roles in diverse neurobiological processes, such as cell differentiation, growth, proliferation and neural activity, as well as the pathogenic processes of spinal cord injury (SCI) like inflammation, oxidation, demyelination and apoptosis. Results from animal studies have revealed the temporal alterations in the expression of a large set of miRNAs following SCI in adult rats, and the expressional changes in miRNAs following SCI is bidirectional (increase or decrease). In addition, several miRNAs have distinct roles in prognosis of SCI (protective, detrimental and varied). Taken together, the existing evidence suggests that abnormal miRNA expression following SCI contributes to the pathogenesis of SCI, and miRNAs may become potential targets for the therapy of SCI.
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