Global miRNA expression and correlation with mRNA levels in primary human bone cells

RNA. 2015 Aug;21(8):1433-43. doi: 10.1261/rna.049148.114. Epub 2015 Jun 15.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are important post-transcriptional regulators that have recently introduced an additional level of intricacy to our understanding of gene regulation. The aim of this study was to investigate miRNA-mRNA interactions that may be relevant for bone metabolism by assessing correlations and interindividual variability in miRNA levels as well as global correlations between miRNA and mRNA levels in a large cohort of primary human osteoblasts (HOBs) obtained during orthopedic surgery in otherwise healthy individuals. We identified differential expression (DE) of 24 miRNAs, and found 9 miRNAs exhibiting DE between males and females. We identified hsa-miR-29b, hsa-miR-30c2, and hsa-miR-125b and their target genes as important modulators of bone metabolism. Further, we used an integrated analysis of global miRNA-mRNA correlations, mRNA-expression profiling, DE, bioinformatics analysis, and functional studies to identify novel target genes for miRNAs with the potential to regulate osteoblast differentiation and extracellular matrix production. Functional studies by overexpression and knockdown of miRNAs showed that, the differentially expressed miRNAs hsa-miR-29b, hsa-miR-30c2, and hsa-miR-125b target genes highly relevant to bone metabolism, e.g., collagen, type I, α1 (COL1A1), osteonectin (SPARC), Runt-related transcription factor 2 (RUNX2), osteocalcin (BGLAP), and frizzled-related protein (FRZB). These miRNAs orchestrate the activities of key regulators of osteoblast differentiation and extracellular matrix proteins by their convergent action on target genes and pathways to control the skeletal gene expression.

Keywords: differential expression; interindividual variation; mRNA; miRNA; osteoblasts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cells, Cultured
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins / genetics
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins / metabolism
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Male
  • MicroRNAs / genetics*
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism*
  • Osteoblasts / cytology*
  • Osteoblasts / metabolism
  • Osteogenesis*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism


  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins
  • MicroRNAs
  • RNA, Messenger