MicroRNA-29b regulates the expression level of human progranulin, a secreted glycoprotein implicated in frontotemporal dementia

PLoS One. 2010 May 10;5(5):e10551. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0010551.


Progranulin deficiency is thought to cause some forms of frontotemporal dementia (FTD), a major early-onset age-dependent neurodegenerative disease. How progranulin (PGRN) expression is regulated is largely unknown. We identified an evolutionarily conserved binding site for microRNA-29b (miR-29b) in the 3' untranslated region (3'UTR) of the human PGRN (hPGRN) mRNA. miR-29b downregulates the expression of luciferase through hPGRN or mouse PGRN (mPGRN) 3'UTRs, and the regulation was abolished by mutations in the miR-29b binding site. To examine the direct effect of manipulating endogenous miR-29b on hPGRN expression, we established a stable NIH3T3 cell line that expresses hPGRN under the control of the cytomegalovirus promoter. Ectopic expression of miR-29b decreased hPGRN expression at the both mRNA and protein levels. Conversely, knockdown of endogenous miR-29b with locked nucleic acid increased the production and secretion of hPGRN in NIH3T3 cells. Endogenous hPGRN in HEK 293 cells was also regulated by miR-29b. These findings identify miR-29b as a novel posttranscriptional regulator of PGRN expression, raising the possibility that miR-29b or other miRNAs might be targeted therapeutically to increase hPGRN levels in some FTD patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 3' Untranslated Regions / genetics
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Binding Sites
  • Cell Line
  • Frontotemporal Dementia / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Gene Knockdown Techniques
  • Genes, Reporter
  • Glycoproteins / genetics*
  • Glycoproteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / genetics*
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism*
  • Intracellular Space / metabolism
  • Luciferases / metabolism
  • Mice
  • MicroRNAs / genetics
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • NIH 3T3 Cells
  • Progranulins
  • Protein Binding
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism


  • 3' Untranslated Regions
  • GRN protein, human
  • Glycoproteins
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • MIRN29a microRNA, human
  • MicroRNAs
  • Progranulins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Luciferases