Objective: Short bowel syndrome remains a condition of high morbidity and mortality, and current therapeutic options carry significant side effects. To identify new treatments we focused on postresection changes in microRNAs--short noncoding RNAs, which suppress target genes--and suggest a previously undiscovered role for microRNA-125a (mir-125a) in intestinal adaptation.
Methods: Rats underwent either 80% massive small bowel resection or transection and were harvested after 48 hours. Jejunum was harvested for microRNA microarrays, laser capture microdissection, and RNA and protein analysis. Mir-125a was overexpressed in intestinal epithelium-6 (crypt-derived) cells (IEC-6) and effects on proliferation and apoptosis determined using MTS and flow cytometry. Expression of potential targets of mir-125a in rat jejunum and IEC-6 cells was determined using quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (RNA) and Western blotting (protein).
Results: Resection upregulated mir-125a and mir-214 by 2.4-folds and 3.2-folds, respectively. Highest levels of expression were noted in the crypt fraction. Mir-125a overexpression induced apoptosis and resultant growth arrest in IEC-6 cells. The expression of the prosurvival Bcl-2 family member Mcl-1 was downregulated in both mir-125a-overexpressing IEC-6 cells and in jejunum of resected rats, confirming Mcl-1 as a previously undiscovered target of mir-125a.
Conclusions: Upregulation of mir-125a suppresses the prosurvival protein Mcl1, producing the increase in apoptosis known to accompany the proliferative changes characteristic of intestinal adaptation. Our data highlight a potential role for microRNAs as mediators of the adaptive process and may facilitate the development of new therapeutic options for short bowel syndrome.