Mesenchymal stromal cells (hMSCs) display a pleiotropic function in bone regeneration. The signaling involved in osteoblast commitment is still not completely understood, and that determines the failure of current therapies being used. In our recent studies, we identified two miRNAs as regulators of hMSCs osteoblast differentiation driving hypoxia signaling and cytoskeletal reorganization. Other signalings involved in this process are epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signalings through the regulation of Yes-associated protein (YAP)/PDZ-binding motif (TAZ) expression. In the current study, we investigated the role of miR-33a family as a (i) modulator of YAP/TAZ expression and (ii) a regulator of EGFR signaling during osteoblast commitments. Starting from the observation on hMSCs and primary osteoblast cell lines (Nh-Ost) in which EMT genes and miR-33a displayed a specific expression, we performed a gain and loss of function study with miR-33a-5p and 3p on hMSCs cells and Nh-Ost. After 24 h of transfections, we evaluated the modulation of EMT and osteoblast genes expression by qRT-PCR, Western blot, and Osteoimage assays. Through bioinformatic analysis, we identified YAP as the putative target of miR-33a-3p. Its role was investigated by gain and loss of function studies with miR-33a-3p on hMSCs; qRT-PCR and Western blot analyses were also carried out. Finally, the possible role of EGFR signaling in YAP/TAZ modulation by miR-33a-3p expression was evaluated. Human MSCs were treated with EGF-2 and EGFR inhibitor for different time points, and qRT-PCR and Western blot analyses were performed. The above-mentioned methods revealed a balance between miR-33a-5p and miR-33a-3p expression during hMSCs osteoblast differentiation. The human MSCs phenotype was maintained by miR-33a-5p, while the maintenance of the osteoblast phenotype in the Nh-Ost cell model was permitted by miR-33a-3p expression, which regulated YAP/TAZ through the modulation of EGFR signaling. The inhibition of EGFR blocked the effects of miR-33a-3p on YAP/TAZ modulation, favoring the maintenance of hMSCs in a committed phenotype. A new possible personalized therapeutic approach to bone regeneration was discussed, which might be mediated by customizing delivery of miR-33a in simultaneously targeting EGFR and YAP signaling with combined use of drugs.
- EGFR signaling
- epithelial mesenchymal transition
- mesenchymal stromal cells
- regenerative medicine