Microrna-221 and microrna-222 modulate differentiation and maturation of skeletal muscle cells

Beatrice Cardinalli, Loriana Castellani, Pasquale Fasanaro, Annalisa Basso, Stefano Alemà, Fabio Martelli, Germana Falcone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of small non-coding RNAs that have recently emerged as important regulators of gene expression. They negatively regulate gene expression post-transcriptionally by translational repression and target mRNA degradation. miRNAs have been shown to play crucial roles in muscle development and in regulation of muscle cell proliferation and differentiation. Methodology/Principal Findings: By comparing miRNA expression profiling of proliferating myoblasts versus differentiated myotubes, a number of modulated miRNAs, not previously implicated in regulation of myogenic differentiation, were identified. Among these, miR-221 and miR-222 were strongly down-regulated upon differentiation of both primary and established myogenic cells. Conversely, miR-221 and miR-222 expression was restored in post-mitotic, terminally differentiated myotubes subjected to Src tyrosine kinase activation. By the use of specific inhibitors we provide evidence that expression of miR-221 and miR-222 is under the control of the Ras-MAPK pathway. Both in myoblasts and in myotubes, levels of the cell cycle inhibitor p27 inversely correlated with miR-221 and miR-222 expression, and indeed we show that p27 mRNA is a direct target of these miRNAs in myogenic cells. Ectopic expression of miR-221 and miR-222 in myoblasts undergoing differentiation induced a delay in withdrawal from the cell cycle and in myogenin expression, followed by inhibition of sarcomeric protein accumulation. When miR-221 and miR-222 were expressed in myotubes undergoing maturation, a profound alteration of myofibrillar organization was observed. Conclusions/Significance: miR-221 and miR-222 have been found to be modulated during myogenesis and to play a role both in the progression from myoblasts to myocytes and in the achievement of the fully differentiated phenotype. Identification of miRNAs modulating muscle gene expression is crucial for the understanding of the circuits controlling skeletal muscle differentiation and maintenance.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere7607
JournalPLoS One
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 27 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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