Altered expression of miR-29b is implicated in the pathogenesis and progression of liver fibrosis. We and others previously demonstrated that miR-29b down-regulates the expression of several extracellular-matrix (ECM) genes including Col 1A1, Col 3A1 and Elastin via directly targeting their 3'-UTRs. However, whether or not miR-29b plays a role in the post-translational regulation of ECM biosynthesis has not been reported. Heat shock protein 47 (HSP47) and lysyl oxidase (LOX) are known to be essential for ECM maturation. In this study we have demonstrated that expression of HSP47 and LOX was significantly up-regulated in culture-activated primary rat hepatic stellate cells (HSCs), TGF-β stimulated LX-2 cells and liver tissue of CCl4-treated mice, which was accompanied by a decrease of miR-29b level. In addition, over-expression of miR-29b in LX-2 cells resulted in significant inhibition on HSP47 and LOX expression. Mechanistically, miR-29b inhibited the expression of a reporter gene that contains the respective full-length 3'-UTR from HSP47 and LOX gene, and this inhibitory effect was abolished by the deletion of a putative miR-29b targeting sequence from the 3'-UTRs. Transfection of LX-2 cells with miR-29b led to abnormal collagen structure as shown by electron-microscopy, presumably through down-regulation of the expression of molecules involved in ECM maturation including HSP47 and LOX. These results demonstrated that miR-29b is involved in regulating the post-translational processing of ECM and fibril formation.
Keywords: Extracellular matrix; Fibrosis; Heat shock protein 47; Lysyl oxidase; miR-29b.
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