MiR-122 in Hepatic Function and Liver Diseases

Protein Cell. 2012 May;3(5):364-71. doi: 10.1007/s13238-012-2036-3. Epub 2012 May 18.


As the most abundant liver-specific microRNA, microRNA-122 (miR-122) is involved in various physiological processes in hepatic function as well as in liver pathology. There is now compelling evidence that miR-122, as a regulator of gene networks and pathways in hepatocytes, plays a central role in diverse aspects of hepatic function and in the progress of liver diseases. This liver-enriched transcription factors-regulated miRNA promotes differentiation of hepatocytes and regulates lipid metabolism. With regard to liver diseases, miR-122 was shown to stimulate hepatitis C virus (HCV) replication through a unique and unusual interaction with two binding sites in the 5'-UTR of HCV genome to mediate the stability of the viral RNA, whereas inhibit the expression and replication of hepatitis B virus (HBV) by a miR-122-cylin G1/p53-HBV enhancer regulatory pathway. In addition, miR-122 acts as a suppressor of cell proliferation and malignant transformation of hepatocytes with remarkable tumor inhibition activity. Notably, a clinical trial targeting miR-122 with the anti-miR-122 oligonucleotides miravirsen, the first miRNA targeted drug, has been initiated for treatment of HCV infection. With further understanding of the comprehensive roles of miR-122 in hepatic functions and the mechanisms involved in miR-122 down-regulation in chronic hepatitis or hepatocellular carcinoma, miR-122 appears to be a promising candidate for effective therapeutic approaches against tumor and infectious diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism / genetics
  • Liver / growth & development
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • Liver / physiopathology*
  • Liver Diseases / genetics*
  • Liver Diseases / physiopathology*
  • MicroRNAs / genetics
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism*
  • Models, Biological


  • MIRN122 microRNA, human
  • MicroRNAs