Background: Skeletal muscle differentiation is a multistep, complex pathway in which several important signaling molecules are involved. Recently, microRNAs (miRNAs), endogenous non-coding small RNAs that regulate mRNAs, have been proposed to be involved in skeletal muscle differentiation. In this study, we identified skeletal muscle differentiation-associated miRNAs by comparing miRNA expression profiles between C2C12 cells and Wnt4 over-expressing C2C12 cells (W4-08), which can spontaneously differentiate into myotubes.
Results: We identified miR-206, miR-133a, and miR-133b as up-regulated miRNAs and miR-487b, miR-3963 and miR-6412 as down-regulated miRNAs in differentiating cells. We focused on the down-regulated miRNAs because their functions were largely unknown. Transfection of mimics of these miRNAs into C2C12 cells resulted in significantly reduced expression of myogenic differentiation markers, including troponin T and myosin heavy chain fast type and slow type, but did not affect the expression of the myogenic transcription factors, MyoD and myogenin.
Conclusions: These miRNAs were characterized as new myogenic differentiation-associated miRNAs which may delay late myogenic differentiation or maturation.