MicroRNAs Function as Cis- and Trans- Acting Modulators of Clock Gene Expression in SCN and Peripheral Circadian Oscillators
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The circadian system in mammals is arranged as a hierarchical network of oscillators, with the master pacemaker of circadian rhythms located in the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) of the hypothalamus and peripheral oscillators in most other organ and tissue systems of the body. The molecular machinery responsible for generating circadian rhythms is composed of interlocked transcriptional-translational feedback loops with the gene Brain Muscle Arnt-like 1 (Bmal1) functioning as a core positive regulator. Using the mouse, Mus musculus as a model system, we studied the post-transcriptional mechanisms regulating Bmal1 expression in the SCN pacemaker and in peripheral oscillators. Target prediction algorithms were used to identify microRNAs (miRNAs) predicted to target Bmal1. We profiled the temporal expression of miR-142-3p in the mouse SCN in vivo and in an immortalized SCN cell line and observed robust circadian rhythms in its expression in the SCN. Following luciferase-reporter and site-directed mutagenesis analyses, we identified miR-142-3p as a bona-fide post-transcriptional repressor of Bmal1. The temporal expression of potential Bmal1-targeting miRNAs was also examined in the circulation in mouse serum. In mice housed in a light-dark cycle, diurnal oscillations were observed in serum levels of miR-152 and miR-494, but not miR-142-3p expression. Luciferase reporter studies indicated that miR-494, both independently and synergistically with miR-142-3p, repressed the Bmal1 3′ UTR. Overexpression of these miRNAs disrupted ensemble circadian rhythms of PER2::LUCIFERASE activity in cultured fibroblasts. Overexpression of the miRNAs also increased their extracellular levels and their intracellular accumulation in recipient cultures exposed to conditioned medium. Furthermore, inhibition of exocytosis and endocytosis affected ensemble circadian rhythms in cultured fibroblasts. The results thus implicate miR-142-3p and miR-494 in the regulation of Bmal1 expression in the SCN and peripheral oscillators and suggest that miRNAs may function as both, intracellular and extracellular (cis- and trans- acting) signals, modulating the core clock mechanism in the SCN and in fine-tuning the synchronization of circadian rhythmicity between cell-autonomous oscillators in the periphery.
SubjectmiRNA regulation of intercellular communication
Circadian temporal synchronization
Shende, Vikram Ravindra 1982- (2012). MicroRNAs Function as Cis- and Trans- Acting Modulators of Clock Gene Expression in SCN and Peripheral Circadian Oscillators. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from