MicroRNA-124 regulates neuronal differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells by targeting Sp1 mRNA
Seyed Mahmoud Hashemi
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© 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. MicroRNAs play an important role in neuronal development and function. miR-124 is the most abundantly expressed miRNA in the nervous system. Several different mRNA targets have been proposed for miR-124, but the precise function of endogenous miR-124 and its mRNA targets remain to be further elucidated. Specificity protein 1 (Sp1) is a transcription factor that plays key roles in many cell processes including cell cycle. However, this transcription factor is nearly absent in differentiated neurons and a remarkable suppression of Sp1 expression was shown after neurogenesis. Since miR-124 is expressed abundantly in neurons and because Sp1 levels decrease during neurogenesis, it is possible that miR-124 could regulate the expression of Sp1 during neuronal development. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to evaluate the putative targeting of Sp1 by miR-124. Overexpression of miR-124 using a plasmid coding for pri-miR-124 in HEK293 cells decreased the expression of Sp1 mRNA. The results of dual-luciferase reporter assay demonstrated that miR-124 directly targeted the 3′-untranslated regions of Sp1 mRNA. To evaluate whether Sp1 expression was regulated by miR-124 during the process of neuronal differentiation, Adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells (A-MSCs) were differentiated into neuron-like cells. The results of qPCR analysis showed that with the gradual increase of miR-124 expression during neurogenesis, the expression of Sp1 mRNA decreased accordingly. In summary, this study demonstrated for the first time that miR-124 is able to suppress Sp1 expression, which in turn affected the neuronal differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells.