A possible new mechanism for the control of miRNA expression in neurons

Exp Neurol. 2013 Oct;248:546-58. doi: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2013.07.022. Epub 2013 Aug 7.


The control of gene expression by miRNAs has been widely investigated in different species and cell types. Following a probabilistic rather than a deterministic regimen, the action of these short nucleotide sequences on specific genes depends on intracellular concentration, which in turn reflects the balance between biosynthesis and degradation. Recent studies have described the involvement of XRN2, an exoribonuclease, in miRNA degradation and PAPD4, an atypical poly(A) polymerase, in miRNA stability. Herein, we examined the expression of XRN2 and PAPD4 in developing and adult rat hippocampi. Combining bioinformatics and real-time PCR, we demonstrated that XRN2 and PAPD4 expression is regulated by the uncorrelated action of transcription factors, resulting in distinct gene expression profiles during development. Analyses of nuclei position and nestin labeling revealed that both proteins progressively accumulated during neuronal differentiation, and that they are weakly expressed in immature neurons and absent in glial and endothelial cells. Despite the differences in subcellular localization, both genes were concurrently identified within identical neuronal subpopulations, including specific inhibitory interneurons. Thus, we cope with a singular circumstance in biology: an almost complete intersected expression of functional-opposed genes, reinforcing that their antagonistically driven actions on miRNAs "make sense" if simultaneously present at the same cells. Considering that the transcriptome in the nervous system is finely tuned to physiological processes, it was remarkable that miRNA stability-related genes were concurrently identified in neurons that play essential roles in cognitive functions such as memory and learning. In summary, this study reveals a possible new mechanism for the control of miRNA expression.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Hippocampus / metabolism*
  • MicroRNAs / genetics*
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Transcriptome


  • MicroRNAs