Species-specific microRNA roles elucidated following astrocyte activation

Eyal Mor, Yuval Cabilly, Yona Goldshmit, Harel Zalts, Shira Modai, Liat Edry, Orna Elroy-Stein, Noam Shomron*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are short non-coding RNAs that play a central role in regulation of gene expression by binding to target genes. Many miRNAs were associated with the function of the central nervous system (CNS) in health and disease. Astrocytes are the CNS most abundant glia cells, providing support by maintaining homeostasis and by regulating neuronal signaling, survival and synaptic plasticity. Astrocytes play a key role in repair of brain insults, as part of local immune reactivity triggered by inflammatory or pathological conditions. Thus, astrocyte activation, or astrogliosis, is an important outcome of the innate immune response, which can be elicited by endotoxins such as lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and cytokines such as interferon-gamma (IFN-γ). The involvement of miRNAs in inflammation and stress led us to hypothesize that astrogliosis is mediated by miRNA function. In this study, we compared the miRNA regulatory layer expressed in primary cultured astrocyte derived from rodents (mice) and primates (marmosets) brains upon exposure to LPS and IFN-γ. We identified subsets of differentially expressed miRNAs some of which are shared with other immunological related systems while others, surprisingly, are mouse and rat specific. Of interest, these specific miRNAs regulate genes involved in the tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) signaling pathway, indicating a miRNA-based species-specific regulation. Our data suggests that miRNA function is more significant in the mechanisms governing astrocyte activation in rodents compared to primates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3710-3723
Number of pages14
JournalNucleic Acids Research
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 2011


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