Objective: To use an in vitro model of chondrogenesis to identify microRNAs (miRNAs) with a functional role in cartilage homeostasis.
Methods: The expression of miRNAs was measured in the ATDC5 cell model of chondrogenesis using microarray and was verified using quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction. MicroRNA expression was localized by in situ hybridization. Predicted miRNA target genes were validated using 3'-untranslated region-Luc reporter plasmids containing either wild-type sequences or mutants of the miRNA target sequence. Signaling through the Smad pathway was measured using a (CAGA)(12) -Luc reporter.
Results: The expression of several miRNAs was regulated during chondrogenesis. These included 39 miRNAs that are coexpressed with miRNA-140 (miR-140), which is known to be involved in cartilage homeostasis and osteoarthritis (OA). Of these miRNAs, miR-455 resides within an intron of COL27A1 that encodes a cartilage collagen. When human OA cartilage was compared with cartilage obtained from patients with femoral neck fractures, the expression of both miR-140-5p and miR-455-3p was increased in OA cartilage. In situ hybridization showed miR-455-3p expression in the developing limbs of chicks and mice and in human OA cartilage. The expression of miR-455-3p was regulated by transforming growth factor β (TGFβ) ligands, and miRNA regulated TGFβ signaling. ACVR2B, SMAD2, and CHRDL1 were direct targets of miR-455-3p and may mediate its functional impact on TGFβ signaling.
Conclusion: MicroRNA-455 is expressed during chondrogenesis and in adult articular cartilage, where it can regulate TGFβ signaling, suppressing the Smad2/3 pathway. Diminished signaling through this pathway during the aging process and in OA chondrocytes is known to contribute to cartilage destruction. We propose that the increased expression of miR-455 in OA exacerbates this process and contributes to disease pathology.
Copyright © 2012 by the American College of Rheumatology.