Adaptation to different levels of illumination is central to the function of the retina. Here, we demonstrate that levels of the miR-183/96/182 cluster, miR-204, and miR-211 are regulated by different light levels in the mouse retina. Concentrations of these microRNAs were downregulated during dark adaptation and upregulated in light-adapted retinas, with rapid decay and increased transcription being responsible for the respective changes. We identified the voltage-dependent glutamate transporter Slc1a1 as one of the miR-183/96/182 targets in photoreceptor cells. We found that microRNAs in retinal neurons decay much faster than microRNAs in nonneuronal cells. The high turnover is also characteristic of microRNAs in hippocampal and cortical neurons, and neurons differentiated from ES cells in vitro. Blocking activity reduced turnover of microRNAs in neuronal cells while stimulation with glutamate accelerated it. Our results demonstrate that microRNA metabolism in neurons is higher than in most other cells types and linked to neuronal activity.
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