The neurotrophins Ngf, Bdnf, NT-3, NT4-5 have key roles in development, survival, and plasticity of neuronal cells. Their action involves broad gene expression changes at the level of transcription and translation. MicroRNAs (miRs) - small RNA molecules that control gene expression post-transcriptionally - are increasingly implicated in regulating development and plasticity of neural cells. Using PC12 cells as a model system, we show that Ngf modulates changes in expression of a variety of microRNAs, including miRs known to be modulated by neurotrophins - such as the miR-212/132 cluster - and several others, such as miR-21, miR-29c, miR-30c, miR-93, miR-103, miR-207, miR-691, and miR-709. Pathway analysis indicates that Ngf-modulated miRs may regulate many protein components of signaling pathways involved in neuronal development and disease. In particular, we show that miR-21 enhances neurotrophin signaling and controls neuronal differentiation induced by Ngf. Notably, in a situation mimicking neurodegeneration - differentiated neurons deprived of Ngf - this microRNA is able to preserve the neurite network and to support viability of the neurons. These findings uncover a broad role of microRNAs in regulating neurotrophin signaling and suggest that aberrant expression of one or more Ngf-modulated miRs may be involved in neurodegenerative diseases.
- Gene expression
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Molecular Medicine